Seattle asking voters to approve a $60 car tab fee

Aug 16, 2011

Seattle voters will face a proposed car tab fee on the November ballot. The city council has unanimously agreed to ask for an additional $60 annually for the next 10 years to help pay for road and transit projects. 

The news comes just a day after the King County Council added a temporary $20 car tab fee to maintain bus service.

If it passes, the new fee would bring Seattle drivers’ extra car tab payments to $100 a year. The city already added a $20 fee that it began collecting this spring. And in about six months, King County will begin collecting its new $20 fee, which it passed to avoid a 17 percent service cut to Metro Transit.

What it will pay for

The Seattle fee would raise approximately $20 million per year. Nearly half of the money raised would go to transit, while 29 percent is earmarked for roads. 22 percent is for bike and pedestrian projects. About $18 million would go into planning and design for an expansion of the Seattle streetcar, with priority given to creating a connecting line between the South Lake Union and upcoming First Hill routes.

Seattle City Council members called it a compromise, since they had also considered going up to an extra $80 per year. Transportation chair Tom Rasmussen said  it’s both progressive and practical.

"There’s nothing really glamorous in it," Rasmussen said, as he prepared to vote.  "If the voters approve this and if we are able to construct what we say, which are basic transit improvements, people will be able to rely on the bus.  They can count on the schedule of the bus to get them from home to work, on time.”

The mantra on the council was that the new fee would allow Seattle to “fix what we have and finish what we’ve started."