Politics & Government

Lakewood council ready to decide on $20 car tab fee

Car owners in Lakewood will have a chance to comment at a public hearing next month on the City Council’s plan to increase vehicle licensing fees by $20. The council has set an Aug. 25 date for public comment before it votes on the car tab fee that would raise money to help pay for general road maintenance. If approved the fee would be implemented in early 2015.

The Council, acting as the city’s transportation benefit district board, is proposing the fee increase to help pay for 11 road maintenance projects, including paving roads and increasing neighborhood safety between 2015 and 2020. The fee collection would stop after six years or when the projects are complete, whichever comes first.

The fee is expected to generate just over $4 million from 2015 to 2020 and would be combined with existing city revenue to help pay for $9.14 million in road maintenance needs.

The council has also discussed putting a ballot measure before voters to increase property taxes. If approved the money raised would help pay for long range road projects. The council is reviewing its long range transportation plan and whittling down its project list to find savings. Once the list is finalized and the cost to build the projects is known the city will know how much taxes would need to go up to pay for the work.

The council has looked at increasing taxes over a three-year period and has tentatively decided to put the measure on the April 2015 ballot, said Lakewood City Manager John Caulfield.

Any property tax increase would require a super majority, or 60 percent approval from voters, and the total number of voters must be at least 40 percent of the total turnout from the last general election.

The council has discussed how to pay for Lakewood transportation needs for years, relying on advisory committees and public surveys for guidance. It formed the transportation benefit district in 2012 so it could collect street revenue as an independent taxing district, but it has failed to move forward with a plan until now.

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