City Council considers imposing a $20 vehicle license fee

The Kirkland City Council is considering imposing a $20 per vehicle license fee to help pay for road maintenance. If the city establishes a Transportation Benefit District (TBD), the council can impose the $20 per vehicle fee without voter approval. The fee would be collected at the time of vehicle renewal.

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The City's Street Division is responsible for the maintenance of over 150 miles of roadway. With annexation, there will be an additional 96.2 centerline miles of asphalt pavements.

In a 2010 Kirkland citizen opinion survey, eighty eight percent of the respondents rated street maintenance as important to very important. The survey also indicated a deficiency between citizens' perception of Kirkland's street conditions compared with the relative importance citizens put on street maintenance. That is, there is room for improvement to meet Kirkland's expectations for street maintenance.

To sustain Kirkland's street maintenance progams, the City Council has approved a four-tiered strategy for increasing transportation/roads funding levels: 1) Efficiencies; 2) Regulatory and Policy Changes; 3) Partnerships; and 4) New Revenue Sources. See details.

Due to reduced revenue and an increased inflation rate, funding for roadway repair and maintenance is in need of a reliable revenue source. The City Council is considering a revenue source that is authorized through a Transportation Benefit District (TBD) and funds transportation improvements through a vehicle registration fee.

Kirkland's Pavement Condition Scores Drop

The City uses a Pavement Management System to track, assess, and prioritize street treatments that allow the City to maximize limited maintenance dollars. Through visual inspections of defects (e.g. cracking), road maintenance data and other information, a given roadway section within the City is rated using a software program that generates a Pavement Condition Index (PCI). The City's goal is maintain its roadways at a 70 PCI rating.

In a "2008 State of the Streets" report to the City Council (February 2009) Kirkland's PCI rating was 65. This PCI rating is a decline from 70 in 2005 and 67 in 2002.

As a point of reference, a newly paved roadway has a PCI of 100, and over time the PCI decreases depending on environmental and other factors. The City's Pavement ratings were updated in the spring/summer of 2008 using the Pavement Management System. This rating process evaluatedd all of the same attributes that were evaluated in 2002 and 2005 thus allowing internally consistent and comparable results from year to year.

source: City of Kirkland

TBD has several revenue options subject to voter approval:

  • Property taxes - a 1-year excess levy or an excess levy for capital purposes;
  • Up to 0.2% sales and use tax;
  • Up to $100 annual vehicle fee or vehicle tolls.

TBD has two options not subject to voter approval:

  • Annual vehicle fee up to $20 which is collected at the time of vehicle renewal.
  • Transportation impact fees on commercial and industrial buildings.