Several roads in King County, including the Snoqualmie Parkway, were closed when a brief snow storm struck the region last February. File photo

Several roads in King County, including the Snoqualmie Parkway, were closed when a brief snow storm struck the region last February. File photo

King County Council could place roads levy lift on 2020 ballot

Levy could increase taxes for a median home by about $224 a year.

King County voters could be presented with a levy lid lift measure on either the August or November ballot this year in order to increase funding for roads and bridges in unincorporated parts of the county.

The lid lift would raise the amount King County could collect to its statutory limit of $2.25 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Over the following six years, the measure would allow for inflationary growth to keep pace with needs. The current collection rate is $1.81 per $1,000.

The proposed levy lid lift could raise some $164 million over eight years. The levy could increase taxes for a median home by about $224 a year and, if approved, would go into effect in January 2021. The King County Council will vote to approve or deny the ballot measure in the coming months.

King County Department of Local Services Director John Taylor said the budget shortfall facing his department stems from structural problems.

“The Roads Division are probably one of the biggest victims of that,” Taylor said at a Feb. 3 Local Services Committee meeting.

While this would increase funding by about $22 million annually, it’s still less than what’s needed to fund the county’s Roads Department. Incorporations and annexations have steadily been chipping away at the county’s funding base. As neighborhoods are brought into surrounding cities, the annexations decrease the amount of taxes the county receives. Consequently, a smaller number of people living in unincorporated parts of the county end up footing the bill for much of its roads and bridges infrastructure.

The county is facing a situation where by 2025, it will run out of funding for capital projects. After that point, even basic maintenance services would likely be reduced. The county’s road budget has become underfunded by around $250 million annually to fully fund all capital projects and maintenance.

Rick Brater, the county’s Road Services Division director, said around one-quarter of about 80 bridges the county surveyed have some sort of load restrictions. Roads and bridges in unincorporated parts of the county facilitate an average of 1 million vehicle trips a day. This includes areas like White Center or Skyway, which are unincorporated, but sit between major cities including Seattle, Renton and Burien.

If the county isn’t able to find funding for its infrastructure, it could consider closing rural bridges and letting roads return to gravel. By 2040, it’s expected that up to 72 miles of county roads may go to gravel, and multiple bridges will have closed, the county reports. The median age of the county’s 182 bridges is 65 years, while the typical useful lifespan is about 50 years.

King County representatives have been asking the state to re-examine the way it allocates taxes. This could potentially allow the county to receive additional revenue from taxes collected within cities. King County Council member Claudia Balducci said rural roads are a benefit to everyone in the county and likened it to services such as Metro.

“You still benefit from the fact that it’s there,” Balducci said.

Maintenance for all roads in unincorporated parts of the county are paid for by the roughly 250,000 residents who live there.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

Sound Publishing file photo

Sound Publishing file photo

More in News

File Photo
Data released on fireworks-related injuries in Washington

Last year fireworks caused $122,000 in damage.

File photo.
Mysterious in-home deaths of father, two daughters ruled as starvation

Written materials about fasting were found in the home; the father’s death called a suicide.

Dr. Faisal Khan. Courtesy of King County.
Dr. Faisal Khan appointed as next King County health director

Dennis Worsham will continue to serve as interim director until September 6.

Tsr
Renton spa employee accused of trying to coerce woman into prostitution, posing nude

Quyen T. Nguyen, 39, has been accused of attempted promotion of prostitution… Continue reading

Teaser
King County experts discuss extreme heat mitigation plan

The plan includes improving infrastructure and communications to prevent future disasters.

T
Public art call for South King County transit corridor

Deadline is July 13 for artists to apply to have their work in new RapidRide expansion.

Construction at Lindbergh High School is expected to last from summer 2022 to spring 2024. Image courtesy of Renton School District.
Lindbergh High School construction begins in July, will continue until 2024

The preparation phase for construction at the high school started in March 2021.

Courtesy of the Renton School District.
Renton welcomes three new principals to the school district

The principals will lead Benson Hill Elementary School, Talley High School and Hazen High School.

Most Read