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Airway Heights to ask residents to renew transportation benefit district

Airway Heights traffic scape
Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
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The district levies a sales tax to pay for transportation and pedestrian projects.

Ballot counting will continue for several more days in Washington. But Airway Heights officials are already in education mode for their November ballot measure.

The city will ask taxpayers to allow it to collect sales tax for transportation and pedestrian improvements in the rapidly-growing city west of Spokane. It's a continuation of a tax that has been assessed for the past 10 years on people who have bought things in Airway Heights, whether they live there or not.

"Most recently we installed a pedestrian-activated flashing beacon system on Hayford Road, north of U.S. 2. That’s an area that was plagued with a variety of pedestrian challenges in terms of conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians trying to cross that large expanse of a roadway," Airway Heights City Manager Albert Tripp said.

Of the nine percent sales tax you pay in Airway Heights, two-tenths goes to that fund. But the authority to levy that tax runs out at the end of next year. In November, the city will ask voters for the authority to levy a three-tenths of a cent sales tax, beginning in 2024.

“We have other projects that the community has identified where it needs to be enhancements to existing facilities to make them safer or, in some cases, there’s an absence of things like sidewalks, pedestrian paths or bike paths, in which the community would like to see those additions made in order to keep pedestrians safe," he said.

Tripp estimates the current tax has allowed the city to collect $3 million during the last nine years. That’s money he says the city has used to leverage several million more from other sources.