Airway Heights discusses sales tax increase

CHENEY – The Airway Heights city council is considering renewing its Transportation Benefit District (TBD) at the cost of an extra one-tenth of a cent per dollar in sales tax. If approved, the decision would be introduced to the ballot as soon as the General Election on Nov. 8.

The city’s TBD was created in 2013.

“Sales tax collected from the TBD is the only way our community can ensure that travelers who use our streets pay their fair share for maintenance and traffic congestion relief,” City Manager Albert Tripp said in a June 22 press release. “This is important because it reduces the amount of funding we require from local residents.”

The Washington Legislature website defines TBD as a “quasi-municipal corporation” organized to raise funds to improve transportation infrastructure.

In past years, Airway Heights TBD has employed $0.002 to the dollar in city sales tax to fund projects, that in 2021 raised $635,000 to maintain streets and sidewalks as well as traffic congestion relief projects.

Washington legislators passed an increase in the limit to sales tax funding for TBDs from $0.002 to $0.003.

If this plan goes on the ballot, voters would decide whether the city can adopt this change, which would generate an additional $300,000 per year for transportation projects.

The hearing included Liz Loomis, head of a Snohomish-based public affairs firm, who spoke on messaging to educate the public on the costs and benefits of passing these changes to the TBD.

“While 30 percent of vehicles from I-90 pass through the city of Airway Heights, 71% of vehicles traveling along Highway 2 stop and buy fuel, food or make other purchases in your community,” Loomis said.

Airway Heights City Council expects a vote on adding the measure to the ballot on July 5.


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