Tag: $20 car tab fee

Votes Flip on King County Council to Clear Way for $20 Car Tab Fee

The King County Council has reached a deal to pass a $20 increase in car tab fees to provide additional revenue for Metro Transit, according to sources.

The council had been deadlocked on the proposal but an about face by two members – Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert – should carry the $20 car tab fee to passage when the council votes Monday.

Hague and Lambert each cited major improvements from the fee proposal previously under consideration as the reason for their decision.

In addition to holding steady at King County’s claim to save 600,000 service hours per year, the new proposal will also eliminate the free ride zone in downtown Seattle, provide full implementation of “pay as you enter” fare capture systems, and give those paying the fee “about $20” in Metro bus tickets, among other reforms and efficiencies.

The apparent compromise avoids sending the proposal to the voters. Proponents of a fee increase have seen a public vote as a wildcard option, especially during a time when voters have taken a dim view of tax increases in recent elections. Hague, who is in the fight of her political career against three challengers in next week’s primary election, had previously said she would not bypass the voters to enact a hike in car license fees.

When asked for comment, Hague’s staff sent NW Daily Marker the official statement from the council in which Hague offered an explanation for the change of heart:

“This is a very different legislative package from what was initially proposed,” said Councilmember Hague.  “This deal offers real reform.  It cuts waste, creates jobs and provides equity to the Eastside. It’s important we keep people moving while reforming Metro.”


[photo credit: flickr]







$20 Car Tab Fee: Will Bob Ferguson Extend His Record Supporting Tax Hikes to 17-0?

Since the issue of a new $20 car tab fee in King County to pump cash into Metro transit’s sagging operating budget has been on the table, pundits of the professional and armchair varieties have whiled away time speculating how the swing votes on the County Council might fall.

The fence-sitters on the nine-member council deftly avoided having to reveal themselves until a scheduled vote next Monday, August 15th, perhaps not coincidentally only one day before a primary election in which two members will face voters in their bid for re-election.

(Under Washington’s top two primary, it is not inconceivable that an unpopular vote made just as ballots were hitting mailboxes could prove disastrous for incumbents.)

One vote that is definitely not in question is that of District 1 Councilman and candidate for state attorney general Bob Ferguson.

In the five years between 2005 and 2010, the council has voted 16 times to raise taxes or fees. In every case Ferguson cast a vote to raise the cost of being a resident or business owner in King County.

The total bill Ferguson handed down to King County taxpayers amounts to $1.128 billion, a cost to the average household of more than $750 per year.

When Ferguson says yes, King County families end up having to say no to something in their already-strapped budgets.

Not surprising then that Ferguson has publicly supported the push to pluck another $20 per year from taxpayers. After all, why tarnish what will likely be a perfect 17-0 record for Ferguson pitching against the struggling King County economy?

Only one other sitting member has a record so meticulously unblemished by any votes in opposition to tax hikes, Larry Gossett.

In comparison, Ferguson’s colleague and his opponent in the attorney general’s race – Reagan Dunn – has the best record on the council for opposing tax hikes during the period. Dunn voted against raising taxes eight times of the 16 votes taken and has indicated he will vote no on the car tab fee.


Constantine’s Nonpartisan Mask Falls as He Suggests Boycott of Bellevue Square

The personality makeover King County Executive Dow Constantine underwent to run for the office in 2009, a veneer of pragmatic rhetoric that successfully hid the aggressive progressive side of his political persona, has begun to wear thin.

Constantine has arguably been an adequate fiscal manager during a difficult time in King County government, chopping budgets in response to slacking revenues, but his most notable achievement has been restraining his own tendencies to incite partisan bickering when pursuing ideological objectives. That all changed last Thursday when a personal animus for Bellevue businessman and light-rail opponent Kemper Freeman, Jr. overcame Constantine’s self-control.

Freeman spent in excess of $1 million to ensure that voters would have an opportunity to cast a ballot on how revenues gas taxes and road tolls can be spent – Initiative 1152 – he also owns the Bellevue Square shopping mall. Constantine implied to KUOW “Weekday” host Steve Scher last Thursday that spending at Bellevue Square was tantamount to financing the effort to kill light-rail.

“If you shop at Bellevue Square, you are contributing to that campaign,” Constantine said.

When Constantine’s inner liberal starts screaming after being suppressed for so long, it appears to deafen him to hypocrisy. The jab at Freeman came after a Constantine and Scher had already riffed on how the “extremist Tea Party/Tim Eyman gang nattering at” the Council in opposition to his proposed $20 car tab fee might necessitate implementing cuts to Metro that Scher characterized as “scary.”

Bellevue Square has long been an engine of the Eastside economy and a virtual fountain of sales tax revenue. Constantine estimates the revenues of his $20 car tab fee would be $25 million per year over the next two years, but appears not to care much about the impact on sales tax revenues from a boycott of Bellevue Square. Then there is the resultant underemployment following a decline in sales and the trickle-down effect of lost wages.

Constantine’s comments caught the attention of Washington State Republican Party Chair Kirby Wilbur. In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Wilbur remarked on the tone-deafness of Constantine’s suggestion that residents should punish any business in a time of economic hardship.

“Dow Constantine’s pettiness is showing. His encouragement of King County residents to not shop at Bellevue Square because of his personal issues with Kemper Freeman is not what King County residents need, especially in this recession.

“Mr. Constantine should be more concerned with ensuring King County’s money is spent properly – not trying to micromanage people’s pocketbooks.”

A politician of Constantine’s caliber must also be aware of the egregious conflation underpinning his basic contention. I-1125 only seeks to reinforce the state’s existing law, underscoring the principle that revenues derived from gas taxes and tolls are to be spent on roads, not transit. Passage of I-1125 may indirectly doom fantasies of a shiny light-rail system crowding the downtown Bellevue corridor, but only if proponents of such a system fail to envision a legally viable funding mechanism.

Détente is in the wind, however. Wilbur invited Constantine to sit down and break bread with he and Freeman at Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Bellevue Square Wednesday night.

“If Dow will meet me for dinner I will buy him a steak,” Wilbur said. “Call me, Dow.”

There is no word yet on whether Constantine will be joining the Wilbur party this evening.


[hat tip: Freedom Foundation’s Brett Davis; photo credit: flickr]

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén