Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Garth Meyer
Gazette Columnist 

Discussions underway on rural road tax hike


June 6, 2019

Discussions are underway between county commissioners and Mark Storey, Public Works director, about putting the question to voters whether to raise the road tax collection rate for residents of unincorporated areas.

The county’s annual road levy is allowed to increase one percent per year, by state law.

“We are losing buying power over the years,” Storey said, citing increasing costs of three to four percent each year. “We’re falling behind on our ability to supply rock to maintain gravel roads.”

Previously, county commissioners set levy rates, before a 2001 initiative 7477 changed the law to limit tax revenue increases by a percent.

“Let’s let the people decide how much to spend on maintenance of rural roads,” Storey said. “In 2003, a road grader cost $160,000. A road grader today is $330,000.”

To put the matter to the 6,000 voters in unincorporated areas, county commissioners would first need to approve of it going on the ballot. If so, the vote would be a one-time event, as opposed to raising the one percent per year cap to two or three percent.

What percentage/rate would it be?

“I don’t know what that number is yet,” said Storey, who plans to make a formal presentation to commissioners before July 4 and ask them to consider it.

Storey will make himself available to speak to various groups on this over the summer.


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