North Bend in $440,000 Road Maintenance Hole that Controversial Parking Tax, B&O tax Increase won’t Solve

At the May 3rd North Bend City Council meeting, City Administrator Londi Lindell said a newly approved business tax and another parking tax being considered aren’t enough to address the annual $440,000 road maintenance budget shortfall. They’re just ‘tools in the toolbox’ to try to close the gap and improve North Bend’s notoriously bumpy roads.

Per a 2015 Pavement Management Study, the City of North Bend should be spending $540,000 annually to maintain its roads. But currently the city says it has about $100,000 in its general fund for roads  – and many residents say the streets show it.

For about three years, Mayor Ken Hearing and City Administrator Lindell have been discussing ways to secure more funding for North Bend’s roads that are subject to a lot of truck traffic. They asked the state for a 1 cent gas tax similar to one given to the City of Blaine, which also has a truck stop. The state legislature said no to this ongoing revenue request, but did award North Bend, which has the only truck stop in King County, a one-time payment $100,000 to help with the wear trucks put on city streets.

Not enough – North Bend needs more Tools

On May 3rd, the North Bend City Council approved a new B&O tax rate (i.e. tax increase) aimed at making the users of city roads – especially companies with larger facilities like Genie and Cadman – pay their fair share toward maintaining streets.

The new tax rate, based on business square footage and applied at a tiered rate, was approved by the council unanimously. It had been discussed and altered for about two years before finally receiving approval on Tuesday evening.

The second tax increase explored was a controversial new 30% Commercial Parking Tax that was first announced in the May 3rd council meeting agenda. It faced sharp criticism because currently the only North Bend business subject to the tax is Truck Town.

During the meeting, Lindell apologized for the new parking tax ordinance being placed in the consent agenda, saying that was a mistake and should have been placed in ‘introductions.’ Residents showed up to speak out against and for the new tax, including two representatives of TA which operates the busy truck stop.

TA says Hold on Now

In a letter sent to the city council and mayor, TA’s lawyer stated 1) the city did not have the authority to impose the tax because the state law allowing parking taxes did not apply to truck stops and 2) no parking tax revenue would be collected from the truck stop because they do not charge a ‘parking fee’ for spots – only a “non-refundable reservation charge” to reserve 50 of the 150 available spaces.

A TA representative explained the small reservation charge (around $13) is an administrative fee and covers the cost of employees at the stop who greet and make sure those truckers make it to the designated reserved spots, as well as employees who work in the reservation center.

Lindell proposed the city sit down with TA to discuss how the can move forward, as both parties seem to have different beliefs as to what constitutes parking charges. Lindell said the idea behind the tax is that everyone fairly contribute to their impact on North Bend streets.

Lindell reminded council members that the proposed Commercial Parking Tax was just a ‘tool in the council’s toolbox’ to ensure that ‘users pay for use’ and help maintain the city’s roadways and right of ways.  She likened that philosophy to the council’s stance that ‘growth pay for growth’ – and encouraged council members to take as much time as needed when considering the new tax.

‘Paid-for Parking’ Probable Solution for Overflow Hikers

Although the parking tax may only initially impact Truck Town, Lindell said it’s “very probable” the city will have ‘paid-for parking’ to meet the high parking demand from hikers visiting the Mount Si and Little Si trailheads.

She said the city is looking at that option right now as overflow hikers are now parking on North Bend Way and police officers are ticketing cars. She said this is not the welcome message the city wants to send to visitors – especially as North Bend brands itself as a premier outdoor destination.

Lindell said tickets don’t make hikers want to come back so the city needs an alternate parking solution – and one that has the users of their roads pitching in to maintain them.

In the end, the city council decided to table the Commercial Parking Tax and send it to a future Council Work Study session so members could have more discussions about the controversial measure.

As North Bend pursues business tax revenue to address road maintenance, the city council in recent years has not imposed the allowable 1% annual tax increase on city property owners.

According to an email with Mayor Hearing in fall of 2015, he stated that he did suggest the city council consider imposing the small, allowable annual tax increase to help the city’s general fund, but the council did not want to raise taxes.

In contrast, in neighboring Snoqualmie, the city council historically takes the 1% increase, which last year added an (approximate) $68,000 to its general fund.

 

City of North Bend Finance Director Dawn Masko and City Administrator Londi Lindell discussing tax measures to improve city roadways during the May 3rd council meeting.

City of North Bend Finance Director Dawn Masko and City Administrator Londi Lindell discussing tax measures to improve city roadways during the May 3rd council meeting.

 

Comments

  1. Adding a $10 a year fee to license tab fees (for people with a 98045 zip code) would be a good way to go, if and only if it is directly earmarked for North Bend’s road maintenance. Back when we used to pay a yearly excise tax on tabs this State had the best roads in the country, ever since the $30 tab initiative the roads all around the State have gone to crap.
    Studded tires are a huge factor in road wear as well as heavy loads, there are also landlocked homes in unincorporated King county that can’t get to and from as well as can’t get services to and from without traveling on the city’s streets, some roadway damage results in water not being able to run off and away from roadways which eventually results in penetrating through the pavement and saturating the sub grade and turning it to crap. Proper maintenance of what ya have is a lot cheaper than tearing stuff out and building new. That’s my 2 bytes.

    • C Brown says

      Hmmmm, 98045 as you state has many families that are in unincorporated KC.
      Having those folks pay for the road upkeep isn’t really “fair” because they get no return for their money on the roads/streets that lead to and from their homes. Where is the money supposed to come from for that?
      Most people that live near NB in unincorporated areas already pay their fair share to the city coffers every time they fuel in NB, every time they shop in NB, it all adds to the existing taxes already paid.
      All that said, the voters of Wa State wanted to get out from under the burden of outrageous car tab fees. Id someone bought a new car they were paying hundreds if not over a thousand dollars (in today’s dollars you could probably double that) for cars tabs and then had to look forward to paying that again year after year. That my friend was enough to keep less fortunate families from having newer/nicer vehicles. There a very few people (myself included) that want to see those days come back, so the mere mention of “$10”, is enough to make us (me) cringe.
      Especially since the hoards of money they had were horribly mismanaged, and in my opinion still are.
      So here’s one guy that couldn’t disagree more with your suggestion.
      Give em 10 bucks today, they’ll want a 100 tomorrow.
      No Thanks

      • R Evans says

        I certainly don’t think it’s fair that the City Businesses or truckers should have to shoulder the burden. Higher local business taxes = less local businesses, less local businesses = less local jobs.

        • Hugh Johnson says

          Of course truckers should shoulder some of the burden. They stop here, they should pay. Don’t stop, don’t pay. In fact, don’t stop and that also solves all this ridiculous vitriol about the damm truck stop. Let the truck stop close for all most of us care.

  2. RG Carson says

    If we can’t afford to keep our present roads in repair then why are we building roundabouts that really do not improve movement around town? The big rigs are not allowed in town anyway so I don’t see that they drive on every much of our city maintained streets, and they pay taxes on everything they spend here fuel, food, repairs to their truck etc. . The above plan is a good idea because you are not putting it all on the truckers or trying to force Truck Town out of town Like the city is trying to do.

  3. The article brings forth several points or issues:

    Issue: “For about three years, Mayor Ken Hearing and City Administrator Lindell have been discussing ways to secure more funding for North Bend’s roads that are subject to a lot of truck traffic.”

    Reply: This is the same time period (3 years ago) that Mayor Hearing called for a private meeting with the Truck Town owners/family and inquired about their lease date with TA and if they would build a Business Park on the site. The family said no to the Mayor’s Business Park request. The city is insinuating Truck Town is the source of all this “truck traffic” when in fact what truck traffic there is in Down Town North Bend (two miles away) is delivery and service trucks; local business trucks like Cadman and trucks going to and from development sites like the Pig Farm. Truck traffic on Bendigo (Exit 31 to Snoqualmie and Redmond) is actually State Route 202 and the State paves and maintains this road, not the city. The truck traffic from Truck Town drives two tenths of a mile from and to the I-90 Freeway at Exit 34.

    Issue: “On May 3rd, the North Bend City Council approved a new B&O tax rate (i.e. tax increase) aimed at making the users of city roads – especially companies with larger facilities like Genie and Cadman – pay their fair share toward maintaining streets.”

    Reply: Truck Town also pays a B&O Tax, so it must be paying their share toward maintaining streets – so why are they singled out as the only one for the 30% Truck Parking Fee.

    Issue: “During the meeting, Lindell (city administrator) apologized for the new parking tax ordinance being placed in the consent agenda, saying that was a mistake and should have been placed in ‘introductions.’”

    Reply: This was no mistake – it was a sneaking it by the public tactic. The excuse the City Administrator was gone – is just that an excuse – no City Administrator would allow a council meeting agenda to go public until he/she had reviewed it and approved such, even if they were out of town. Also, the lead/responsible party listed next to the 30% Ordinance on the Agenda was the City Administrator.

    Issue: “Lindell (city administrator) proposed the city sit down with TA to discuss how they can move forward, as both parties seem to have different beliefs as to what constitutes parking charges.

    Reply: Why wasn’t this gone to begin with? After all the 30% Ordinance is something new and only applies to Truck Town. Only after the city was caught by citizens trying to sneak the 30% Truck Parking Tax through on the Consent Agenda did this idea come about. And as the Mayor said the ordinance may not even apply Truck Town – but it sure appears to.

    The Mayor continues to refuse to answer the simple questions – Why did you contact the family three years ago to ask when the lease is up with TA? Why did you ask the family to put a Business Park on the property? What business was it of yours or the cities? When told by the family that they preferred to stay in business as a Truck Stop – why did the city start attacking with restrictive and costly Ordinances aimed at Truck Town? Why is the city acting like the point man in a scheme to leverage Truck Town out of business? Why all the double talk Mayor – you’re for Truck Town to the press now that it is an issue – yet your polices are definitely anti-Truck Town to where an observer feels your forcing the family to sell Truck Town. The issues you cite to make a case do not pass any objectivity test at all for this multi-million dollar issue. Not to mention the millions tied up in the adjacent 36 acre Business Park next door under development by Puget Western. Let’s repeal the ordinances and leave Truck Town alone before the city gets sued. If the owners want a truck stop they have the right — the city should not be leveraging Truck Town toward selling with these Ordinances.

    For over fifty years Truck Town has been a community member, supporter and large employer for the Snoqualmie Valley.

    Chris Lodahl
    (Mayor 1992-1995)

  4. The following is the letter presented to the NB Council at the May 3rd meeting from the TA (Leaser of Truck Town) attorney and two other TA officials from Gresham, Oregon.

    SWW Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt’
    ATTORNEYS AT LAW
    U.S. Bank Centre, 1420 5thAvenue,Suite34OO,Seattle,WA98l01-4010 Phone206.622.1711 Fax206-292.0460 http://www.schwabe.com
    LAWRENCE A. COSTICH
    Admitted in Washington
    Direct Line: 206-407 -1548
    E-Mail: lcostich@schwabe.com
    May 3,2016
    Via Email and Hand Delivered
    City Council
    City of North Bend
    211 Main Ave. North
    P.O. Box 896
    North Bend, WA 98045

    Re: TA Operating LLC’s Opposition to the Proposed Ordinance No. AB16-051
    Establishing a Commercial Parking Tax

    TA Truck Stop – 46600-46720 SE North Bend Way, North Bend, WA 98045
    Our File No.: 11292l-182606

    Dear City Council:

    Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt represents TA Operating LLC (“TA”), which operates the
    TA truck stop in North Bend. I am writing on behalf of TA to oppose the North Bend’s
    proposed ordinance.” AB16-051, which seeks to establish a commercial parking tax that
    specifically targets the TA’s truck stop at 46600-46720 SE North Bend Way in the City of North
    Bend. The proposed ordinance is inapplicable to the TA truck stop, as well as an inequitable
    treatment. TA urges the City Council to reject proposed Ordinance AB 16-051.

    North Bend does not have authority to impose a commercial parking tax on the truck stop.

    The City does not have the authority to impose a parking tax on the TA Truck Stop
    because the enabling statute, Chapter 82.80 RCW, was not intended to apply to truck stops. In
    reviewing the legislative history of the Local Option Commercial Parking Tax, originally passed
    in 1990, it is clear that the Legislature intended RCW 82.80.030 to authorize a parking tax for
    commercial parking lots catering to passenger vehicles (i.e., Diamond Parking lots or Republic
    Parking lots ìn the Puget Sound region). The statute was not intended to apply to tractor-trailers
    and long-haul trucks such as those at the TA truck stop. The City must respect the Legislature’s
    intent behind the statute. Any attempt by the City to apply a parking tax to the TA truck stop is
    beyond the Legislative intent for RCW 82.80.030.

    No parking tax revenue would be collected by the City under Ordinance A816-051.

    Even if North Bend enacts proposed Ordinance A816-051, none of the parking tax
    revenue would be collected from the TA truck stop, because TA does not collect a “parking fee.” There are approximately 150 parking stalls at the Truck Stop, and TA does not charge a parking fee for any of these. Trucks can park in approximately 100 of the available parking for spaces for free and without a reservation. A driver, however, may pay a non-refundable charge to reserve one of a limited number of spaces. This charge amounts to an administrative fee for the reservation. It is not dependent on the driver actually using the parking space. If the driver does not use the reserved parking space, the driver is still charged the processing fee for the
    reservation. Thus, there is no “parking fee” which would be subject to the tax set forth in the
    proposed ordinance.

    Proposed Ordinance AB16-051 would impose an impermissible burden on one property
    owner for a public benefit.

    The City Council should reject A816-051, because it is inequitable and imposes a
    disproportionate burden on the TA truck stop for. a perceived public benefit. The trucks using
    the TA truck stop travel only 0.2 miles along 468tr’Ave SE from I-90 to the truck stop entrance,
    and 0.1 miles along SE North Bend Way between the truck stop exit to 468th Ave SE. There is
    no reason for them to travel any of the other City streets. Any adverse impacts to City streets are not a result of truck traffic using TA’s parking area, but from other vehicles. As just one
    example, there is more adverse impact to North Bend City streets from the truck traffic
    associated with the gravel pit to the east and the Genie Industries’ facility to the northeast than
    there is from incoming/outgoing truck traffic at the TA truck stop. Yet these facilities would be
    excluded from Ordinance AB 16-051. This proposed ordinance unfairly targets the TA truck stop for damage to City streets for which its customers are not responsible.

    The City Council should reject proposed Ordinance AB16-051.

    On behalf of TA, we urge the City Council to vote against proposed Ordinance AB16-
    051 to establish a commercial parking tax. This proposed ordinance is ineffective and
    disproportionately targets TA and the truck drivers that serve this community and our region.

    Sincerely,
    SCHWABE, WILLIAMSON & WYATT, P.C
    Lawrence A. Costich
    LAC jan
    cc: City Clerk
    City Attorney
    Clients

  5. The city of north bend needs to quit blaming the truckers for their lack of proper road maintaince and miss management of city funds. Se 108th st in north bend is a perfect example of neglect. I feel sorry for the people that actually live on that road. It clearly wasn’t build right in the first place and has been ignored for years. All of us who must drive that road everyday should get a credit from the city to put towards new shocks for our cars

Speak Your Mind

*

%d bloggers like this: