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Electric City and Elmer City slowly collecting vehicle tax for streets


Cities and towns that have formed Transportation Benefit Districts have been slowly racking up some extra money for streets, even a little they shouldn’t have.

Elmer City and Electric City have both formed the special districts; Grand Coulee and Coulee Dam, while holding discussions about it, have not yet done so.

A transportation benefit district (TBA) allows a city or town to collect $10 for each license on cars and trucks. It’s a tool designed by the state legislature to help municipalities make up for the financial hit their street funds took after voters passed a statewide initiative in 1999. I-695 cut fees on annual vehicle tabs from 2 percent of a vehicle’s value to a flat $30, eliminating the vehicle excise tax and about 7 percent of the state’s revenue, a portion of which small towns depended on for street maintenance. That initiative was later ruled unconstitutional, but the Legislature then passed a statute that made the change.

Electric City Clerk Jackie Perman said last week that when the city started collecting the fee in 2013 there was some opposition from a few people who didn’t want to pay the extra $10. She stated that things have smoothed out now and the city has $34,625 in the fund, which must be used for streets. The city collects about $10,000 a year through the TBD.

“At first,” Perman noted, “there were a few questions from people who had Electric City addresses but resided outside the city.”

The state has since developed a better way of establishing addresses of people who reside within the city, Perman said.

To establish a transportation benefit district, a city council must pass an ordinance.

“Right now we plan to use our TBD funds to improve Western Avenue with storm drainage, curbs and sidewalks,” Perman said.

Elmer City passed its TBD ordinance in December 2015, and has about $2,500 in its fund.

Town Clerk Gary Benton said that a few people who live outside the town had paid the extra $10.

“We have had to refund a couple of people,” Benton said.

The town collections were slow in 2016, because of some changes the state was making, he stated.

The town hasn’t established what streets will benefit from the fund.

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