City of Spokane Valley officials are going back to the drawing board trying to find ways to fund road maintenance after a proposal to add a 6 percent utility tax to all utilities was strongly opposed last year.

The Spokesman-Review reports that, at a Spokane Valley City Council workshop on Tuesday, City Manager Mark Calhoun and Deputy City Manager John Hohman introduced a plan to help the city define and address the issue.

Currently, Spokane Valley’s street operation and maintenance is primarily funded by a tax on telephone landlines, a revenue source that is dwindling due to many people switching to only cell phones. That income source has dropped from just over $3 million in 2009 to around $2 million in 2016.

The Public Works Department says there is an annual deficit of $6.1 million if the city wants to maintain streets at the current standard. With a new tax not being a popular idea, Calhoun and Hohman have proposed a yearlong project to analyze the issue that includes surveying pavement suggestions as how to pay for its maintenance. After that process is complete, a community meeting will be held to share findings.

A measure called a Pavement Condition Index is used to describe the condition of streets. A staff presentation in December said Spokane Valley’s PCI was 78 in 2010 and has declined to 71 in 2015.

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