Tim Eyman’s latest $30 car tab initiative will impact more than just Sound Transit projects. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Tim Eyman’s latest $30 car tab initiative will impact more than just Sound Transit projects. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Cities will suffer if voters approve $30 car tabs

Many communities use the licensing fees to pave and maintain streets.

In November, voters will get another chance to reduce their car tab fees. Anti-taxer Tim Eyman’s latest initiative takes aim at Sound Transit but, if it passes, will have impacts closer to home.

Car tab fees are a major source of funding used by many Snohomish County cities to pay for local road projects. Initiative 976 would reduce car tabs to $30, eliminating fees charged by cities through transportation benefit districts.

This would affect Edmonds, Everett, Granite Falls, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace. Lake Stevens formed a transportation benefit district this year but has yet to fund it.

Across the state, local transportation benefit districts would lose $125 million over the next two years if Eyman’s latest push passes, according to a fiscal note compiled by Senate staff.

“From my perspective, $20 a year is a small price to pay to ensure that potholes are repaired in a timely manner, roads are being paved and preserved for longevity, snow plows are keeping the streets clear when needed, and safe sidewalks are being constructed and maintained for pedestrian safety in our community,” said Brent Kirk, city manager for Granite Falls, in an email.

Car tab fees, which in 2018 brought in $77,000, account for about a third of the Granite Falls street fund, he said.

“There is no other revenue option available, which is why the transportation benefit districts were created in the first place,” Kirk said.

In Everett, council members tacked on a $20 charge for vehicle registration in 2015. Last year, the fee brought in $1.5 million, making up about 41 percent of the city’s paving and maintenance budget, according tos Everett spokesman Kari Goepfert.

“Without that revenue, the city would have to reduce its street maintenance program,” Goepfert said in an email.

Lynnwood would lose about $1.2 million for road projects if Eyman is successful. And in Edmonds, about a third of funding for roads would disappear.

People don’t expect their streets to be any less maintained, said Phil Williams, director of public works in Edmonds.

“What do you quit doing?” he asked.

Eyman defended his initiative this week before legislators this week during public hearings in both the House and Senate Transportation committees.

“It would be devastating,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, on Thursday. “It’s a big deal.”

Hobbs chairs the Senate Transportation Committee.

If this revenue stream were to cease, it would decrease funding to the Washington State Patrol by about $30 million, Hobbs said.

In 1999 and 2002, Eyman’s $30 car tab initiatives were passed by voters, but both were later overturned in the courts. He tried again in 2017, but failed to garner enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; egiordano@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @lizzgior.

Got a question about Community Transit’s Swift Green Line set to open in March? Send them my way or any other you might have. Email me at streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your name and city of residence.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Stanwood man gets federal prison for selling fentanyl on dark web

In 2013, Christerfer Frick was sentenced to nine years for trafficking drugs. He began selling online upon his release in 2020.

Molbak's Garden + Home in Woodinville, Washington closed on Jan. 28 2024. (Photo courtesy of Molbak's)
Molbak’s, former Woodinville garden store, hopes for a comeback

Molbak’s wants to create a “hub” for retailers and community groups at its former Woodinville store. But first it must raise $2.5 million.

A fire at a home near Alderwood Mall sent one neighbor and one firefighter to the hospital. (Photo provided by South County Fire)
Officials: Residents returned to burning Lynnwood home to rescue dogs

Five people and six dogs were displaced in the Thursday afternoon house fire, according to South County Fire.

Featuring a pink blush over a yellow background, WA 64 combines qualities of Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink (aka Pink Lady) for a firm, crisp, sweet and tart bite. A naming contest for the new apple runs through May 5, 2024. (Photo provided by Washington State University)
Hey Honeycrisp, this new breed of apple needs a name

Enter a naming contest for WA 64, a hybrid apple with the same baby daddy as Cosmic Crisp.

Police respond to a wrong way crash Thursday night on Highway 525 in Lynnwood after a police chase. (Photo provided by Washington State Department of Transportation)
Lynnwood woman, 83, killed in wrong-way crash following police pursuit

Deputies said they were chasing a man, 37, south on Highway 525 when he swerved into northbound lanes, killing an oncoming driver.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

People walk along the waterfront in front of South Fork Bakery at the Port of Everett on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Port of Everett inks deal with longtime Bothell restaurant

The port will break ground on two new buildings this summer. Slated for completion next year, Alexa’s Cafe will open in one of them.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.