City defends use, need for half-cent street tax

By David Knopf/Richmond News

The Nov. 8 election to renew Richmond’s half-cent transportation tax is still a week away, but the topic took center stage early in the city council meeting on Oct. 25.

Terrie Stanley, the former council member, spoke first during the meeting’s citizen comments section. Stanley said she was concerned that the tax, when used to finance storm-water improvements, overstepped its legal bounds.

“My concern was that we were taking the transportation sales tax and making it too broad with storm water,” she said. “You can put anything you want on the ballot, but the statute says how the money should be spent.”

Stanley said the statute calls for construction, repair and maintenance of streets.  She said she would be more comfortable if the city had separate taxes for street work and storm-water work.

City Attorney Chris Williams said the city is legally authorized to spend tax proceeds on street and storm-water repairs, as long as the work devoted to storm water is related to roadwork undertaken in the same project.

Williams said that city council told him in July to come up with ballot wording that clearly specified that the money could be used for roadwork and related storm-water improvements.

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