Senate bill gives counties 3-cents-a-gallon gas tax option

OLYMPIA — Cities won’t be allowed to collect a local gas tax but counties can still do so under a bill passed by the state Senate this week.

Senate Bill 6582 enables counties, with voter approval, to impose a tax of up to 3 cents per gallon of gas and use the revenue for transportation needs including transit services.

The legislation also allows cities, counties and transportation to charge a vehicle license fee of up to $40, or a motor vehicle excise tax of up to 1 percent, so long as that Motor Vehicle Excise Tax is approved by popular vote.

The measure passed 25-24 and now heads to the House for action.

Proponents say the bill gives local governments additional options to raise money for transportation needs. Critics argue it is another way for them to avoid putting tax measures before the electorate in some cases.

Earlier versions of the bill would have let cities impose a local gas tax and counties increase property taxes for roads by up to 3 percent a year; today the cap is 1 percent. Those were stripped out prior to the final vote in the Senate.

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