The topic of transportation system funding provided the only bit of drama at what was an otherwise perfunctory Oct. 15 meeting of the Pierce County Council that lasted little more than 30 minutes.

By a vote of 5-2, the council passed an amended version of Proposal No. R2019-133, requesting the Transportation Advisory Commission review Pierce County’s transportation system funding needs and develop a funding system proposal sufficient to meet those needs, and report back to the council by July 30, 2020. Council members Derek Young and Pam Roach were the two no votes.

“I would prioritize several other matters before us that could also require additional funding,” Young said, pointing out behavioral health and housing need money, adding that Pierce County doesn’t have adequate transit service because it hasn’t taken advantage of funding opportunities in the aftermath of the passage of Initiative 695 in 1999.

I-695 repealed the state’s motor vehicle excise tax worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The measure was later ruled unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court.

Pierce Transit is funded primarily by a 0.6 percent sales tax, with some funds coming from other sources, such as fares and federal grants. Pierce Transit has a further .3 percent it could access with voter approval.

Roach echoed Young’s comments, saying she didn’t want the council to simply “rubber stamp” the Transportation Advisory Commission’s recommendations.

Prior to the vote on the resolution, the council unanimously (7-0) approved an amendment to R2019-133 that modified the scope of the review to include active transportation.

In other business, the council passed Proposal No. R2019-127s, concurring with proposed amendments to the Multi-Family Housing Limited Property Tax agreement for the Garfield North project at 221-325 Garfield Street South.

Also passed by the council was Proposal No. R2010-129, approving the 2019 Pierce County Board of Equalization’s request to convene to act on timely filed taxpayer petitions which exceed the requirements of the Revised Code of Washington 84.48.010 (transcript of proceedings to county assessors – delinquent tax for certain preceding years included).

Proposal No. 2019-64, granting a nonexclusive franchise to the City of Roy for location of water lines, was passed by the council. It is a 15-year renewal of the current agreement Pierce County has with Roy.

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