Aberdeen looks to expand transportation improvement fund

The City of Aberdeen is considering asking voters to expand the street improvement program that has been funded through local sales tax. If it’s eventually submitted to voters and approved, the Transportation Improvement Fund sales tax would increase from 13 cents to 18 cents for every $100 of taxable goods.

At the Aberdeen City Council Meeting on Wednesday, the council unanimously passed a report from the Public Works Department to draft a resolution authorizing a ballot measure. Along with the rate increase, it would extend the length of time the tax would be charged by 10 years, which would start when the current tax expires in July 2019.

According to the report, the expansion would increase the number of projects that can be completed in those 10 years by 38 percent.

This fund goes toward transportation projects such as roads and repaving. Public Works Director Rick Sangder said after the meeting it would be a “huge” benefit for the city.

Aberdeen’s Transportation Improvement Fund was originally approved by voters in 2013, when it was categorized as a Transportation Benefit District, which Public Works Director Rick Sangder said was essentially the same as the current tax but was overseen by the state. In October 2017, the city took control of the Transportation Benefit District, and renamed it the Transportation Improvement Fund.

He added that the increase would be voted on by city residents in February, and would require a simple majority of over 50 percent for approval.

“I’m very glad that this is getting the attention it needs, this is a huge benefit for the City of Aberdeen,” said Mayor Erik Larson. “The funding from this tax pays for most of our roadway improvements.”