City council members meet, debate proposed $30 vehicle fee

For the final Eggs and Issues of the 2009 election season, Bremerton City Council members Nick Wofford and Mike Shepherd met to debate the issues surrounding Proposition 1 — the $30 vehicle fee.

Wofford said Bremerton’s streets are deteriorating because nothing has been done for them and Proposition 1 is the “only plan out there.”

Shepherd said the problem of road deterioration is a statewide problem and the solution lies in working harder with the Legislature to add an additional 5-cent statewide gas tax rather than a local $30 car tab fee “we can’t afford.”

Shepherd also said the fee will not really be fair for all as some will take advantage of addresses outside the city.

“It isn’t hard to get a PO box in Silverdale,” he said. “$10 per year is better than $30.”

Although Shepherd said a gas tax would “remove the inequities” a car tab fee would impose, Wofford said the city would actually not get much of that tax money.

“It works out to the same amount,” he said. “The same as I am asking for.”

The councilmen were asked about the likelihood of this money being used for something other than roads and both offered opposite opinions.

Wofford said 1 percent of the money collected will go to the state, but the other 99 percent will be used for roads and sidewalks. He also said there is a sundown clause for three years so the money will only be collected for that length of time.

Shepherd said he acknowledged the problem and, “I wish I had a better solution for keeping money focused.” He referred to a time during the revitalization of downtown Bremerton when road money was used to purchase signs.

For the two council members, the discussion was more about economic development versus quality of life.

“I see streets as a good thing,” Wofford said. “Your house value is higher if the road is good. Streets are a vital part of economic development.”

Shepherd said he traveled to Bellingham three weeks ago and learned the key to their community’s happiness had more to do with the quality of life than with economic development.

“Even if we fix the roads, the quality of life will not be better,” he said.

The proposition will be on the same ballot as Initiative 1033 and the councilmen were asked if they thought it would affect the likelihood of Proposition 1 passing.

“I don’t think it will affect it at all,” Shepherd said.

“1033 takes effect in 2011, not 2010, so it shouldn’t,” Wofford said. “But we’re in big trouble if 1033 passes.”

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