Bonney Lake’s proposed creation of a transportation benefit district could open the door to new taxes to bolster the city’s road construction and repair program.
The proposal before the Bonney Lake City Council would mirror the creation of similar transportation districts in other Pierce County cities.
Creating a Bonney Lake transportation district would in part be a defensive move to allow the city to control its own fate regarding new taxes, said Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson. If the city doesn’t create its own district, it could become part of such a district established by Pierce County. The county would then have the power to raise transportation taxes in Bonney Lake and decide where to spend the money raised by the taxes.
The council will hold a hearing on the proposal during its 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday (March 22) at the Bonney Lake Justice and Municipal Center.
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The district’s creation would not automatically raise taxes, said the mayor. State law allows the governing body in the transportation benefit district, in this case the Bonney Lake City Council, to decide whether to impose an additional fee on license tabs sold to Bonney Lake residents. That law also allows the city to ask voters to approve an additional one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax for transportation improvements.
Johnson said the growing population of Bonney Lake is placing ever-larger demands on its road network
“In 1991 when I moved here,” he said, “the population was 9,100. Now it is 19,700.” Projections say the city’s population could easily top 25,000 in the next few years.
The development of such huge housing projects as Tehaleh and Plateau 465 could put additional demand on the road network. Tehaleh, which is outside the city’s boundaries but depends on the city’s road network to provide access, is the state’s largest master planned residential development. Developers have already built some 600 homes in the development, but the tract could eventually be the site of 9,200 dwellings if Pierce County approves its expansion.
Plateau 465, which is within city boundaries, will have some 3,000 houses and apartments when fully developed.
The developers are paying for road improvements as part of their development agreements with the city and the county. Tehaleh, for instance, is near completion of an extension of 198th Avenue East to provide more direct access to the community. Newland Communities, Tehaleh’s owner, is financing that extension as well as an improvement at a key Bonney Lake intersection at state Route 410 and Veterans Memorial Drive.
Johnson said the city will have to improve its own road network beyond that which is being financed by developers.
The area is considering whether it needs to bring back transit service to the community. Pierce Transit provided some service to the Bonney Lake plateau until it reduced service during the recession and cities there backed out of the transit district and its taxes. Sound Transit maintains a Park & Ride lot in Bonney Lake for commuters using its Sounder rail service from Sumner.
Johnson said Bonney Lake, Sumner and Buckley mayors have talked about forming their own transit district, but nothing tangible has emerged from those talks.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663