Battle Ground City Council members table Transportation Benefit District vehicle tab fee increase

BATTLE GROUND — During a regular Battle Ground City Council meeting on Mon., Feb. 6, members of the city’s Transportation Benefit District (TBD) Board (made up of the seven city council members) voted to table a possible vehicle tab fee increase until an unknown future date.

During Monday night’s meeting, a motion was made by Council Member Shane Bowman to “table the TBD tab increase until we can get more information from staff and to discuss the possibility of going to a vote (for a possible sales tax increase), when we would need to have that done for the August election, what that’s going to entail, so I would like to make a motion to table that at this time.”

 

“So, would that be a motion to postpone to a date uncertain?” City Manager Jeff Swanson asked Bowman to clarify. Bowman replied, “yes.”

The motion to table the vehicle tab fee increase was approved 6-0. Council member Chris Regan was absent from the meeting.

“With three of our council people not on council the first go around, Mr. Bowman wanted to give them and us more time to familiarize ourselves with the options,” Mayor Philip Johnson said on Tuesday, the day after the meeting. “In the coming months we will be having a study session to look into the ramifications of either a sales tax vote, a $20 tab increase vote and what will happen if we do neither. The roads are not getting better by themselves, so I see us making a decision about this no later than the spring.”

The TBD Board members had been considering approving a resolution that would have increased the current annual $20 vehicle tab fees in the city to $40. The current annual revenue from the $20 tab fee is about $250,000. City officials have said this amount does not meet the level of need for maintenance and preservation of the city’s transportation infrastructure. Increasing the tab fee to $40 would increase that annual revenue from $250,000 to approximately $500,000.

Two community members spoke briefly in opposition to a vehicle tab fee increase during Citizens’ Communications at Monday night’s meeting. The Citizens’ Communications portion of the meeting took place prior to the board members voting to table the tab fee increase.

“My wife and I are citizens of Battle Ground and we are both senior citizens with fixed incomes,” said David Taylor, addressing the council. “If the council does approve an increase, perhaps you might consider giving senior citizens a discount on the tabs.”

Bid awarded for South Parkway Avenue Improvement Project

Also during Monday night’s meeting, council members voted to award Tapani Underground Inc. the contract for the South Parkway Avenue Improvement Project in the amount of $3,512,919.36.

The city of Battle Ground received Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) grant funds to complete road improvements on South Parkway Avenue between Eaton Boulevard and Main Street. The city was able to obtain these grant funds by meeting a 15 percent match requirement. Of the TBD revenue collected thus far, $65,000 was leveraged to obtain a grant in the amount of $366,747.

Council members also voted to award Tapani Underground Inc. the contract for the South Parkway Avenue Improvement Project based on a bid of $3,512,919.36
Battle Ground City Council members voted to award the contract for the South Parkway Avenue Improvement Project to Tapani Underground Inc., a company located in Battle Ground. The city received eight bids for the project, and Tapani Underground Inc. was identified as the lowest apparent bidder with a bid of $3,512,919.36. Photo by Mike Schultz

Between Eaton Boulevard and the vicinity of Rasmussen Boulevard, the project will include subgrade replacement, widening to three lanes (two travel lanes and one center turn lane), center medians, sewer line extension, water line replacement, detached sidewalk, bike lane, landscape strip and street lights, according to city officials. Roadside ditches will be filled in and replaced with an underground storm system.

Between the vicinity of Rasmussen Boulevard and Main Street, existing pavement will be ground out and replaced with new asphalt, and pedestrian curb drops will be reconstructed to meet current standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Council members also voted to award Tapani Underground Inc. the contract for the South Parkway Avenue Improvement Project based on a bid of $3,512,919.36
A groundbreaking ceremony for the South Parkway Improvement Project is currently scheduled for Thu., March 16, at 10 a.m. City officials said they hope to have the roadway paved by this fall, sometime in October/November. Photo by Mike Schultz

The city received a total of eight bids for the project, and Tapani Underground Inc. was identified as the lowest apparent bidder.

“As long as I’ve been here (in the city of Battle Ground), about 13 years now, people have moaned and whined about South Parkway and its failings,” Mayor Johnson said during Monday night’s meeting. “The mayors before me have begged and pleaded to the state and others for help (to fund repairs/reconstruction), and finally in the last year and a half, those beggings and pleadings have come to fruition. I’m glad that a company that’s four blocks away from South Parkway is the winner.”

Scott Sawyer, Battle Ground’s public works director, said they hope to have that section of South Parkway paved by this fall, hopefully sometime in October/November.

An Informational Open House on the South Parkway Improvement Project will be held on Tue., Feb. 28, 5:30-7 p.m., at Battle Ground City Hall, 109 SW 1st St. Community members can join city staff at this informational open house where they can view plans, timeline and project funding information. City engineers will also be on hand to answer questions.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the project is currently scheduled for Thu., March 16, at 10 a.m.

The funding for the South Parkway Avenue Improvement Project will be a combination Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) funds, Traffic Impact Fees, Transportation Benefit District (TBD) funds, and water and sewer utility funds. The total budget identified in the 2017-2018 biennial budget for South Parkway is $4,633,494.

To learn more about the city’s Transportation Benefit District, visit http://www.cityofbg.org/index.aspx?nid=443. To learn more about the South Parkway Avenue Improvement Project and to keep up to date on the status of the project, visit http://www.cityofbg.org/index.aspx?nid=457.

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About The Author

Joanna Nicole Yorke is a 2010 graduate of the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in political science. Yorke is a Clark County native, growing up on her family's 12-acre farm in La Center where her family still resides today. She was previously a reporter at The Reflector Newspaper, covering the city of Battle Ground, the Battle Ground School District and a variety of other areas and topics.

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