- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Clarkston voters will decide whether to raise the sales tax to pay for street projects in the city.

At the end of a two-hour session Monday night, the Clarkston City Council voted 4-3 in favor of running a ballot proposal in November that calls for a 0.2-cent sales tax increase on retail purchases. If approved, the sales tax will go from 7.7 to 7.9 percent, and a $20 car tab fee would be eliminated.

Several councilors argued against the proposal, including Terry Beadles, Bill Provost and Brian Kolstad.

Beadles said the people who own cars in Clarkston and use the streets on a daily basis should pay for repairs and maintenance, rather than shoppers who visit the city and drive only a few blocks to get to stores. A sales tax hike could wind up driving business away from Clarkston, he said.

Councilors Clee Manchester, Kelly Blackmon, George Nash and Alice White voted in favor of running the ballot measure, saying voters would have the final say.

A sales tax increase is more fair because it spreads out the cost of maintaining roads, Nash said. And the current car tab fees are not bringing in enough money to cover much-needed improvements.

The split decision was made at a Clarkston Transportation Benefit District meeting, following the regular council proceedings, which drew a crowd to city hall.

Public comments were shifted to the end of the first meeting and everyone who wanted to speak was given an opportunity to address the council. For more than an hour, numerous marijuana supporters talked about the benefits of cannabis and the importance of lifting a ban on retail sales of pot inside the city limits.

No one spoke in favor of the city’s ban on retail marijuana businesses.

In other city business, the council agreed to settle a lawsuit with Skyline Construction at a cost of $75,000. The lawsuit has been an ongoing issue for almost three years, following a major remodel of the city’s public safety building.

Skyline filed a claim for $986,410 against the city and then filed for bankruptcy. Allegations of defective plans and inadequate project administration were asserted, but the city denied the claims. Attorney fees make it too expensive to continue the fight, officials said.

“Basically, what we’re doing is cutting our losses,” Provost said.

“The lowest bidder isn’t always the cheapest and this is a classic example,” Beadles said.

Sandaine may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.


(c)2015 the Lewiston Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho)

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