King City hears from the community on a proposed gas tax
Nearly five years after King City voters shot down a proposed tax on motor vehicle fuels, the city is once again looking at the idea — although it likely won't appear on the ballot again until next year at the earliest.
King City solicited responses to a community survey asking how the city ought to fund street improvements. On Wednesday, Aug. 4, city councilors and planning commissioners held a joint meeting to go over preliminary survey results.
Officials say they're considering two primary options: a vehicle registration fee, which would be a flat amount paid by all vehicle-owners within city limits, or a fuel tax, which would be assessed on all gasoline and diesel purchases at the two gas stations in King City.
Survey results (383 recorded surveys) were presented at the Aug. 4 meeting. They show residents favor a fuel tax over a vehicle registration fee.
Asked if a vehicle registration fee is the way to go, an overwhelming 315 respondents said no, while only 68 voiced approval.
The fuel tax option, on the other hand, was the preferred option, supported by 256 respondents, or 66.8% percent. 127 respondents said no.
In 2016, voters rejected a proposed tax of 3 cents per gallon in King City. At that November election, 1,465 voters, or 57.6%, said "no" to the measure.
Many of King City's streets and sidewalks were built in the 1960s. Each year, King City receives about $250,000 from the state for street repairs, but city officials say they need more than $1.5 million to address their maintenance backlog for streets and sidewalks alone.
"The gap between our need for repairs and annual dollars received is growing every year," the city explained in a statement. "We have been getting many calls from concerned citizens requesting us to do more street maintenance. The number of calls is growing. We want to do more projects, but the money from the state is limited."
The work session was informational only, and officials didn't decide on a path forward. Mayor Ken Gibson told the Regal Courier he wants to hold off on a decision at least for 2021.
"We have so many things going on right now, and especially with the transportation system planning and the master planning, we decided that we can't afford to have these things going simultaneously," Gibson said.
He added, "We concluded, basically, that what we need to do is pause on the gas tax until after we have more clarification and a stopping point on the transportation system plan and the master plan before we go after the gas tax. … That means it's highly unlikely that we would try to get anything on the ballot before November of 2022."
Gibson stressed that proceeds from such a tax will go toward maintaining and improving existing roads, not building new roads. While King City is planning for a major westward expansion, officials say their immediate concern is street maintenance, not more construction.
"Our battle is not necessarily though conversation and people talking to us about what their concerns are, the battle is what's being said on social media," Gibson said, noting, "It's a really, really daunting task to try to squash these misinterpreted things that are constantly being said via social media."
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