Probable victory of Initiative 976 means financial pain for the state of Washington’s Sound Transit

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
Sound Transit
Sound Transit scored a victory in court Feb. 13 regarding vehicle registration fees.
Sound Transit

The first round of votes in the state of Washington involving Initiative 976 does not look promising and has the Sound Transit bracing for the worst.

Votes being tallied through the morning of Nov. 6 showed that over 55 percent of voters in the state of Washington favor a $30 cap on car-tab fees. Sound Transit was using car-tab fees to generate funding for a massive system expansion, but in a statement released Nov. 6 Sound Transit Board Chair John Marchione, who also is mayor of Redmond, Wash., said the operation to recover $20 billion in lost revenue has begun.

“The Board will hear presentations from the agency’s finance staff as well as our general counsel,” Marchione said in a statement. “The Board will consider Sound Transit’s obligations to taxpayers who want their motor vehicle excise taxes reduced, as well as how to realize voters’ earlier direction to dramatically expand high capacity transit throughout the Puget Sound region.”

A second tally of votes was supposed to take place some time on Nov. 6.

The state of Washington uses flat car-tab fees starting at $43 that also includes additional fees that help fund infrastructure projects. After voters approved a $54 billion Sound Transit measure a couple of years ago car-tab taxes skyrocketed. Some went from paying $80 in car-tab fees to nearly $800 a year. Causing public frustration was how the new car-tab tax was calculated. Sound Transit overvalues cars instead of using Kelley Blue Book rates.

If Initiative 976 is officially approved by the voters, it will face legal challenges that could last months. Tim Eyman, who sponsored Initiative 976, says the state could use its $3 billion in reserves to help make up what will be lost. Eyman has had other car-tab cap measures approved by voters in the past, only to see them get struck down in the courts.

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Categories: Commuter/Regional, Intercity, Passenger, Rail News, Railroad News, Rapid Transit/Light Rail
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