Richmond City Council is asking for the public’s opinion whether to include sidewalk restoration as part of the use of the city’s half-cent transportation sales tax.
Council members debated whether funds from the tax should be used for sidewalks at a combined ordinance and public works meeting prior to Tuesday’s council meeting.
The sales tax, started in 2001, was designated for street repairs, and in 2011, the city approved an ordinance that appropriates two-thirds of those dollars to street improvements and a third to storm water-related work. The tax generates around $450,000 a year.
Councilman Jim Dunwoodie said he was opposed to the idea of amending the use of the tax without voter approval.
“I object to this because this isn’t what was presented to voters,” he said. “Storm water was put on the last ballot and it almost didn’t pass.”
City Administrator Ron Brohammer corrected him by saying the tax passed by a 60-40 margin. Likely, Dunwoodie was thinking of the 2006 election when the half-cent tax was passed by just two votes – 964 to 962. Residents at that time showed their displeasure on how the tax was being spent – primarily on the Wellington Street project with new overlays, curbs and sidewalks while other streets remained in rough condition.