Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Jan. 19, 2022

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Results mixed for Woodland measures to appoint city manager, increase sales tax for roads

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WOODLAND — Initial general election results Tuesday show voters in Clark and Cowlitz counties had opposite choices in two city measures. A measure to alter Woodland’s form of government is failing overall, while a sales tax to fund road projects is narrowly leading.

Initial vote counts from around 8:30 p.m. show 58 percent of Cowlitz County voters turned down the measure to have a hired city administrator lead Woodland as opposed to its current elected mayor, while 60 percent approved the measure in Clark. Counts also show about 52 percent of Cowlitz County voters opted to increase the sales tax to pay for city street projects, while about 57 percent voted against the measure in Clark.

The Cowlitz County Elections Office reports 6,000 more county ballots are set to be counted, and the Clark County Elections Office has about 25,000.

Form of government

Current Woodland Mayor Will Finn supported the measure to downgrade his position as the city’s chief administrator officer to a ceremonial role, according to the Cowlitz County Voters’ Pamphlet. He said the current form of government gives too much power to an elected official to lead a city with a multi-million dollar budget despite qualifications.

Changing Woodland’s system to a council-manager form of government would allow the elected City Council to appoint and remove the hired manager, and the mayor would no longer vote during ties. Finn said, if the measure was adopted, current City Administrator Peter Boyce would continue his role of city manager, with “the only thing changing is the title on the door.”

Transportation Benefit District

Boyce said other road funding sources like the state and federal gas tax don’t generate enough revenue to maintain most municipalities’ infrastructure, so many cities and counties create Transportation Benefit Districts. Woodland is looking to fund the transportation district by increasing the city’s sales tax by 0.2 percent so anyone purchasing goods inside Woodland will contribute to road funds.

Finn states people living inside city limits bear the “financial burden” of funding the city’s road system for everyone who uses the streets, according to the Cowlitz County Voters’ Pamphlet. Finn said Woodland shoppers would pay 2 cents for every $10 purchase if Proposition 2 passes, accumulating to an estimated $300,000 a year for road projects like paving streets and increasing pedestrian safety.

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