LONGVIEW — Woodland voters will see a familiar issue return to the ballot in November: the Transportation Benefit District.
The Woodland City Council voted Monday to place a vote to enact a sales tax for transportation funding to help the city pay for years of upcoming roadwork. If approved, the city would enact a 0.2 percent sales and use tax that would be in place for 10 years.
The city previously had attempted to create a Transportation Benefit District in 2016 and 2017 with the same sales tax model. About 53 percent of voters rejected the measure both years.
In the city summary of the ballot measure resolution, Public Works Director Tracy Coleman said the lack of a consistent funding source for the roads has caused the city to fall significantly behind on its maintenance. She said the city could not meet “minimum demands” for maintenance and growth without a funding increase, as some roads already were 18 years behind on upkeep.
Councilman Benjamin Fredricks framed the sales tax as a way for visitors who don’t live in Woodland to help pay for the city’s roads and infrastructure needs.
“This is an excellent way to raise money for the city because everyone who comes to the city will be spending to improve the roadway system,” Fredricks said.
Coleman estimated the tax would provide around $300,000 per year for road work based on current sales. That would cover about half of the costs of the matching grant funds and local costs the city initially scheduled for 2021 in its five-year Transportation Improvement Program.
Woodland’s ballot in November also will see a write-in campaign from a sitting member of the city council.
Janice Graham previously said she would not run for re-election for Position 1 on the council. During Monday’s meeting, she announced she had changed her mind and likely would file a declaration for a write-in candidacy for council Position 6.
Graham was elected to the city council in 2017. She was the wife of the late Woodland Mayor James Graham and is the current president of the Woodland Chamber of Commerce. Graham said the decision to launch a campaign involved some soul-searching about the future of Woodland and unhappiness with the candidates for the council seat.
“I have a lot of support behind me from local people, and a lot of it is going to be word of mouth. The final decisions on how to approach this campaign have not been made,” Graham said.
Fredricks is the current Position 6 councilor but is not running for re-election. The race had three candidates file in May but only one, Jenn Rowland, has not suspended their campaign. Graham did not specify why she disagreed with Rowland, beyond claiming she was a “wrong fit” for the council.
Rowland said Tuesday it was interesting that Graham had entered the race because it “gives the appearance that current leadership is resistant to fresh perspectives and want to keep things as is.”