The Lakewood City Council is giving residents a chance to weigh in on Sound Transit’s plans to extend Sounder commuter train service, light rail and bus rapid transit in the South Sound.
The council’s meeting Tuesday will include a presentation by city staff members about the project, known as Sound Transit 3, before opening the floor to public comment.
The proposed $53.8 billion package would increase taxes in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties if approved by voters Nov. 8.
The City Council has no say over Sound Transit’s proposal but is deciding whether to take a position on the package.
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“These funding sources are going to be in place essentially in perpetuity,” City Manager John Caulfield said. “The fact is, even after the bonds and the projects are all built, they’re going to have to continue to maintain them. As far as we know, these funding sources are going to continue.”
Lakewood taxpayers already pay Sound Transit more than $10 million annually. If voters approve the November ballot measure, it would double that amount to more than $20 million, Caulfield said.
The council could decide to support or oppose the package, or it could chose not to take a position.
The fact is, even after the bonds and the projects are all built, they’re going to have to continue to maintain them. As far as we know, these funding sources are going to continue.
John Caulfield, Lakewood City manager
Twenty years ago, and six months after the city’s incorporation, Lakewood’s City Council supported the regional transportation authority’s first package of projects, called Sound Move.
Voters approved that package, authorizing the collection of a portion of the motor vehicle excise tax to pay for the improvements.
Twelve years later, voters approved a second Sound Transit regional transportation proposal and the tax collections to pay for it. The Lakewood City Council didn’t take a position.
The latest proposal includes:
▪ Expansions of light rail from Sea-Tac Airport to Tacoma.
▪ Expanding Sound commuter rail to DuPont.
▪ Running additional express bus service along the Pacific Avenue corridor from Tacoma to Spanaway.
The work would take 25 years to complete.
Three proposed tax increases are slated to help pay for the package: a motor vehicle excise tax increase, a sales tax increase and, for the first time in agency history, a property tax of 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
Under the proposal, Sound Transit’s share of motor vehicle excise tax collections would increase to 1.1 percent from 0.3 percent until 2028, when it would drop to 0.8 percent, and its sales tax collection would increase to 1.4 percent from 0.9 percent.
Lakewood and other Pierce County cities expressed frustration with Sound Transit’s plans in the spring, saying more connections were needed in the South Sound and sooner.
Lakewood’s position hasn’t changed, Caulfield said.
Lakewood public hearing
What: Lakewood City Council public hearing on the Sound Transit 3 proposal.
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 6.)
Where: City Hall, 6000 Main St.