Tacoma Urbanist

Dec. 7, 2011 at 12:01am

Partial City of Tacoma Funding Solution : Tax Billboards!

While the City of Tacoma debates whether non-profit tickets should be taxed on struggling theaters and how many police and firefighters should be cut, the City of Tacoma seems to be missing a MAJOR source of revenue that 95 percent of Tacomans would support.

There are approximately 250 billboards in the City of Tacoma.  If each billboard were taxed at $4,000 for each billboard, that would bring in $1,000,000 the first year and offset all of the proposed fees below:

  • Increasing yearly business licenses fees from $80 to $90 ($220,000).
  • Eliminating admission tax deductions on tickets to performances and other events hosted by nonprofit groups ($300,000).
  • Establishing a half-price annual business fee, starting at $40, for businesses with gross revenues under $10,000 ($200,000).
  • Increasing false alarm service fees from $60 to $100 ($156,000)

  • In March 1, 2012, 190 of the non-conforming billboard are (thankfully) supposed to be removed.  The city would still receive 60 x $4000 = $240,000 per year each and every year.

    In addition, the City of Tacoma could impose a "billboard blight fee" which would impose a $500 fine each and every time a billboard was permitted to be left in disrepair.  Given the documented poor state of billboard maintenance in Tacoma, this fee could bring in hundreds of thousands of extra funds each year.

    Why not?


    comments [9]  |  posted under tacoma


    by Erik on 12/7/2011 @ 12:10am
    Kevin Freitas has documented a cornucopia of funding sources for blightful billboards in Tacoma:

    by Erik on 12/7/2011 @ 12:11am
    Billboard blight posts episodes 1 through 13 are located here:

    Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13


    by KevinFreitas on 12/7/2011 @ 7:05am
    Here here! This makes so much sense compared to taxing more essential and worthy endeavors here in Tacoma.

    by fredo on 12/7/2011 @ 7:28am
    Erik, your methodology in the posting was very good. I think a modest fee for unattended billboards is appropriate.

    by tacoma1 on 12/7/2011 @ 9:45am
    We obviously can't find current city services without more revenue, so every source of possible revenue needs to be considered. . Clear channel lawyers will likely drag paying any fines out as long as possible. Doubt we will see money anytime soon from them.

    by Erik on 12/7/2011 @ 10:23am
    @Tacoma1: Yes, the fees for failing to take down billboards is one issue which is now the subject of a lawsuit.

    However, the City of Tacoma can certainly increase the licensing fee and tax rate for billboards NOW!

    by tacoma1 on 12/7/2011 @ 10:25am
    Lets do dat den.

    by fredo on 12/7/2011 @ 11:11am
    "We obviously can't find (fund?) current city services without more revenue," tacoma1

    That statement is neither obvious nor true.

    by panachronic on 12/7/2011 @ 11:44am
    "We obviously can't find (fund?) current city services without more revenue," tacoma1

    The more obvious statement is that we couldn't afford the 20% pay increases for city workers. But we did it anyway.

    My idea: a 100% income tax on former city managers.