LYNDEN - The city's new Transportation Benefit District board voted 5-0 on Monday, Aug. 6, to place a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot asking voters to approve a 0.2 percent sales tax increase for road improvements.
Board members Brent Lenssen and Nick Laninga were absent.
If approved, the sales tax in Lynden would increase from 8.5 to 8.7 percent, and the city would join Bellingham and Ferndale with the highest sales tax rates in Whatcom County.
Shoppers would pay an additional 20 cents on a $100 purchase, as an example. City officials have estimated new revenue of $300,000 per year, which would go to projects on their six-year transportation plan, including:
Repaving to preserve streets.
Pedestrian trails and bridges.
Extending 17th Street to Main Street.
Rebuilding Third through Seventh streets downtown.
The tax increase requires a simple majority to pass. City officials have said the extra money is needed to make up for lower sales tax revenues since 2007, before the recession.
"We really haven't had anything to be able to do any serious maintenance on streets," Public Works Director Steve Banham has said.
The added sales tax will be collected for up to 10 years unless extended by the voters.
Monday's vote came just one day before the deadline for municipalities to get a measure on the November ballot.
The Transportation Benefit District board is the Lynden City Council in a different role.
The sales tax increase will be on the same ballot as a $9.5 million bond for a new YMCA with a swimming pool at Delft Square. The bond, which will require 60-percent voter approval, will be on the ballot for residents within the Lynden Regional Park and Recreation District, which has the same boundaries as the Lynden School District. The sales tax measure will only be on the ballots of city residents.
If approved, the recreation center bond measure would create a new property tax that would cost most Lynden homeowners less than $100 a year.
Reach RALPH SCHWARTZ at email@example.com or call 715-2266.