Seattle voters will decide on fee increase for transit

| Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tagging vehicles in Seattle could soon cost residents another $80.

The City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday, Aug. 16, to let voters decide on a $60 increase in vehicle registration to fund various types of transportation projects. The new fee would be in addition to a special $20 fee that Seattle residents have been paying since the spring to support the city’s bus system.

If approved by voters on the fall ballot, the proposed fee is estimated to generate $204 million during the next decade. The revenue would be distributed for transit, roads and bridges, and non-road transportation projects.

Specifically, transit would get 49 percent, another 29 percent would be directed to road and bridge maintenance, and 22 percent would be spent on bike paths and hiking trails.

Initially, an $80 fee with only about $8 million in revenue being used for street work was pursued. Council members overhauled the plan to help ensure the fee was included on the ballot.

City residents are already footing the bill for a nine-year, $365 million levy for street, bridge and sidewalk repairs, as well as transit, bike paths and safety improvements. The levy, which was approved by voters in 2006, earmarks about three-quarters of the revenue for roads.

The vehicle-tab fee is set to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Another effort to generate transit money was approved this week on a 7-2 vote by the Metropolitan King County Council.

Instead of letting county voters decide this fall on whether to approve another $20 car tab fee, council members voted this week to authorize the increase for the next two years.

Supporters said they needed to act quickly to avoid a 17 percent cut in bus service now available. Approval makes available to the county about $50 million for King County Metro Transit service. It also avoids cuts at current service levels.

Opponents said the public should have a say on whether they want a tax increase. Others said the public needs to make sure they get their say on whether they agree with the council’s decision the next time members are on the ballot.

OOIDA encourages Seattle-area truckers to make sure they are registered and to cast ballots on Nov. 8.

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