Renton’s new sales tax will generate millions to fix and build walkways

The city identified 188 miles of missing sidewalks, with about 994,015 feet of walkways still needed.

During its Dec. 11 meeting, the Renton City Council approved a sales tax that will raise millions of dollars to fund pavement preservation and walkway expansions across the city.

The amount of the additional tax will be one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of the selling price of a transaction. The tax will be in place for 10 years and will be collected under the Renton Transportation Benefit District.

The Renton Transportation Benefit District was established by City of Renton Ordinance No. 6115, passed by the Renton City Council on Aug. 14, 2023. State law allows cities and other governments to establish transportation benefit districts to fund transportation and infrastructure projects, and to implement a sales tax to provide revenue for these projects.

Renton’s transportation benefit district was established largely to be able to fund walkway and pavement improvements across the city’s limits.

In the summer of 2023, a “Comprehensive Walkway Plan” was released by the city. In that report, it was identified that the community has 188 miles of missing sidewalks — about 994,015 feet of sidewalks still needed along roads and right-of-ways.

For reference, the city currently has about 343 miles of existing sidewalks, according to the Comprehensive Walkway Plan.

According to the city, the most sidewalk-needy neighborhood in Renton is the Benson area, with an estimated 247,745 feet of missing sidewalk length. The next most is Renton’s Highlands neighborhood, with 189,401 feet of estimated missing sidewalks.

According to an Aug. 7 presentation from Jim Seitz, Renton’s Transportation Director, if the 0.1 percent sales tax had been in place during 2022, it would have generated about $4.39 million in revenue for transportation projects. At that presentation to the city council, Seitz gave a “conservative” estimate that the transportation benefit district would generate at least $3.5 million annually. Of that revenue, Seitz proposed that $1.5 million annually would go toward pavement preservation and the other $2 million in annual revenue would be used for the sidewalk and walkway expansion plan.