The City of Buckley has formed a new taxing district to keep its road system funded.
A Nov. 13 vote by the city council established a Transportation Benefit District to be made up of members of the council.
The city government has seen transportation fund revenues drop steadily since 2003, a trend City Administrator Dave Schmidt attributed to lower tax distributions and tax-limiting initiative measures at the state level. And a general fund stretched thinner and thinner over the years has meant fewer transfers to streets and other support services.
"Overall maintenance has declined in proportion to funding," Schmidt wrote in his report. "Only minimal (maintenance) is able to be performed."
Several citizens—some visiting to see the outcome of the Nielson Meadows Retention Pond vote, a piece of unrelated business—protested the creation of a new taxing entity and spoke out during public comment.
One such visitor told the council he thought the condition of Buckley roads was just fine, especially compared to neighboring communities.
Councilman Milt Tremblay responded that, regardless of the present condition of the roads, the ability of the city to fund its own roads would guard against future degradation.
Schmidt added that the roads' present condition could be largely attributed to grants from outside entities.
"Fortunately we have some excellent grant writers in this city that have helped us obtain money for our roads," he said. "The problem is, those grants require matching funds from the city they benefit, and we don't have the match anymore."
Schmidt elaborated that a combination of falling revenues and road expansion meant street light maintenance had come to take a prohibitively large portion of the streets budget.
Several of the anti-district speakers said they would attend the Nov. 20 Streets and Utilities Committee meeting to discuss the matter further.
None of those people showed up, come Nov. 20. However, Schmidt and Tremblay spoke briefly about the district, discussing plans to hold a public hearing and work session after the district has its first meeting.