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NASCAR may depend on gas tax

International Speedway Corp. (ISC) won’t commit to a date for its final proposal with regard to a Kitsap racetrack, but the company expects to unveil one around the middle of October.

The date falls well ahead of election day, when voters will decide to pass or repeal a 9.5 per gallon gas tax increase — a significant point, since in the eyes of many the two issues could be dependent on one another.

“We really need this tax in order to make this project work,” said Leader International President Rick Flaherty at a business forum last month at which the track’s potential economic impacts were discussed.

This fervor may cause some people to think of I-912 as a referendum on the track, especially since the public is not expected to address the track’s disposition at the ballot box.

Such an attitude is misguided, according to Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo).

“It would be a mistake to vote against the measure as a way to show opposition to NASCAR,” she said. “You vote against 257 projects throughout the state that are needed for safety and preservation.”

One of those projects, a study of State Route 3 between Bremerton and Belfair, is important to the development of the track but, according to Appleton, “was in the works well before NASCAR was an issue.”

ISC also claims its repeal will not delay or deter the project.

“The tax doesn’t have anything to do with the proposal,” said ISC spokesman Stann Tate. “We’re looking at ways to pay for the track that will have nothing to do with the gas tax. This does not directly affect us.”

The current situation is a series of unknown factors, including as the details of ISC’s proposal and the substance of its public assistance request.

“The Legislature is waiting to see a specific proposal,” said 26th District Rep. Derek Kilmer, (D-Gig Harbor). “It needs to see what kind of investment is required.” Kilmer said he wasn’t sure about the effect of the gas tax on the local infrastructure, saying he originally opposed it “because it didn’t do enough for our area.”

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