SUNNYSIDE — The Sunnyside City Council meeting had a singular focus for its Monday, Aug. 5, workshop held in council chambers. The only topic on the early week meeting agenda was transportation planning.
All council members were present for its Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) discussion session.
The council’s time was used learning further options and details in order to make concrete decisions about how it will take care of the city’s streets and roads for the next six years.
This six-year TIP is part of a city, state and federal relationship to create planning and funding roads in the Sunnyside area, and throughout the state.
The city must develop its priorities for the type of projects it wishes to fund, then determine the total monies needed to fully fund each project. Approved projects are coordinated with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
City Manager Casey reviewed with the council, its recent transportation decisions and upcoming decision needs.
Council approved a Transportation Benefit District (TBD), the transportation entity empowered to care for city roads, streets and bridges, in June 2019.
Within the TBD framework are funding options available to create revenue to underwrite chosen projects.
Nine projects totaling $15 million, were earmarked in June by council for advancement.
Total money match the city needs to generate over six years is $1.5 million.
The types of projects prioritized include general upgrades, resurfacing, gutters, storm drains,
ADA ramps, safety upgrades sidewalk improvements and more.
The methods available to the council, which made no decision on any funding option during the meeting, are both council driven or voter driven.
Manager Casey called the council approach,
“councilmatic” initiatives, whereby the council decides an additional amount that can be added to vehicle license fees.
The other method is voter-approved car license fees and voter-approved sales and use levy or a mix and match of any of the methods.
Every method has specific guidance with time and dollar limits.
Council discussed councilmatic fundraising but deferred this type of decisions due to an upcoming statewide Initiative 976 on the ballot this November.
The initiative calls for limits on car tab fees by public decision-making bodies and other restrictions.
Mayor Hart raised the discussion on Initiative 976 and concluded the meeting with encouragement to the council to get in the frame of mind to make necessary decisions, “Let’s do think seriously how we are going to fund this,” said Hart.