The followup: Those car tab fees you pay? Some will go for Old Wheaton Way


As a Bremerton resident who just renewed my car tabs, I was reminded that we fork over an extra $20 each year to help maintain Bremerton’s roads.

And what is that extra Andrew Jackson going to buy in Bremerton, you ask?

The fund — which generates around $350,000 a year — goes toward street upkeep. The city’s street department seals in cracks, tears out craggily sections of roadway and patches them, and utilizes other quick fixes aimed at extending a road’s life.

But at a Feb. 5 meeting of the Transportation Benefit District (TBD) board — which is really just the Bremerton City Council, but with a fancy title that authorizes them to spend the car tab money — its members authorized spending $250,000 for the Old Wheaton Way project.

The project, which will put in a new street and sidewalks along Old Wheaton from Lebo Boulevard to the Manette Bridge, doesn’t have enough existing funds for completion. Most of the funding is coming from a $1.4 million state grant. The TBD money gets the city closer to installing all of the project’s components, including street lighting, according to Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin.

The TBD board approved a total $750,000 tab for road projects, in excess of what it collects per year but a doable amount because of reserves the TBD fund had built up in its first year and a half of existence.

I’ll have a more detailed story in the Kitsap Sun in the coming days. In the meantime, drop a line and let me know what you think of the car tab fee and what it’s spent on.

11 thoughts on “The followup: Those car tab fees you pay? Some will go for Old Wheaton Way

  1. Glad to see that you are covering this Josh. Important questions and observations that have been brought up with this decision:

    Is the TBD district currently in compliance with all of the State RCW rules that govern their organization practices, budget reporting and decision making on where the money is being spent? It will be very important to follow the specific mechanics of the accounting trail on the exact items and the payments being made on them with TBD money to ensure that all remains in exact compliance.

    I found an important tie with some information that came out of last night’s city council meeting. The City of Bremerton is engaging back into a program where vehicles with (2) or more traffic or parking violations will not be able to have their tabs renewed until the infractions are cleared. The inability to renew the tabs means that the City of Bremerton Car Tab fee is also not being collected on these vehicles. Last night it was announced that an Amnesty period is going to happen in the first part of March. Late fees can be waived or excused. It appears that this might be an attempt to capture those missing City Car Tab fees now that the TBD has proven to be an excellent and easy cash cow to pilfer at will for “legacy” project shortfalls.

  2. Josh: I am glad you have brought up the Bremerton TBD for discussion. It is worth mentioning that a large chunk of TBD money is going out to Lake Flora road. That’s the cross connector road in the wooded area between Port Orchard and Highway 3. Not sure that was how the TBD was sold to the citizens of Bremerton.

    I understand the push to do Lake Flora has something to do with being able to get a grant but that’s not was sold to the citizens when the tabs started.

    The other interesting thing that keeps surfacing is what the actual PMI score (road condition) is for Lake Flora road and actual traffic level. It has been brought up multiple times in public meetings but for some reason Public Works keeps saying “We don’t have that number with us tonight or we are not sure”. How do you justify spending a large chunk of the TBD license tab funds in the middle of the woods for an outlying area (technically part of Bremerton due to annexation) without acknowledging what the road condition actually is so it can be measured against other city roads needs.

    Is Lake Flora road more important than say areas like the crates on 6th near Montgomery? Apparently so.

    This whole TBD process is getting fuzzy and confusing.

  3. Robert — that is not true. There’s no TBD money going for a project on Lake Flora Road. I just went over all of the TBD funding projects with public works staff this week, and Lake Flora isn’t one of them.


  4. Thank you so much Josh for the update. Something may have changed. It was my understanding the last time this was being discussed it was TBD going as match funds for the grant. So appreciate you letting me know. I will have to get the new TBD list. Again, thanks.

  5. Not a problem, Robert. Let me know if you find the source of that. I am not perfect as a fact checker, and am definitely capable of being wrong!

  6. Josh: Here is the last list published on the City of Bremerton website and the last field updates that I just pulled.

    I am thinking the city may be behind in informing the public on this topic also, not updated the website or maybe you have newer information that hasn’t been published yet or authorized by the TBD board. I will watch for an update of the listing and field updates.

    As Colleen mentioned above and linked, I haven’t been able to locate where a resolution has been passed authorizing a newer listing of approved projects.

    Thanks again.

  7. Well now I am quite confused. I talked to Public Works Director Chal Martin today. He said there’s nothing in the present work plan for Lake Flora. And, judging as the program hasn’t been around very long, I can’t imagine the work was completed without us knowing about it.

  8. My recollection of the “selling” of car tabs was that many CC members stated that there are no grants available for non-arterial roadways so this funding source will be used for maintenance and rehabilitation of primarily non grant eligible roadways. The funding of what proponents are now calling “once in a lifetime” projects keeps managing staff and a huge chunk to consultants employed. Meanwhile our street department workers (the ones wearing the boots and holding the shovels) have less and less funding. You cannot do a few thousand feet of crack sealing and fill potholes and pretend you have a maintenance program. I am still waiting for a full explanation of how eliminating 1700 feet of sidewalk on the east side of Wheaton Way only produced a savings of $43,000. Those are the managing engineer’s numbers, not mine. At least the CC and Engineering is on record that most of the improvements on Pacific Ave are for future developers. Which developer(s) are we constructing some of the improvements on Lower Wheaton Way for?

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