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Classen Says He'd Support Smaller, Longer-Term License Fee if it Paid for Streetcar

By Erica C. Barnett August 11, 2011

After writing a blog post last month saying he supported the largest possible vehicle license fee to pay for transportation (the fee of up to $80 would have to be approved by Seattle voters), city council candidate Maurice Classen, who's running against incumbent Jean Godden, backed off somewhat today, writing that he would be "willing to consider a lower fee of $60 given these uncertain economic times that have played out over the past week as long as it contained support for bonding" to pay for streetcar expansion. However, city hall staffers say it's impossible to raise enough revenue in ten years to bond against.

The $80 fee was recommended by a group called the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee III (CTAC-III) after seven months of deliberations; they recommended a mix of funding that skewed toward transit, bike, and pedestrian projects, although they did not recommend a specific project list.

All of the proposals that are currently on the table, which range from a $40, eight-year fee skewed toward road maintenance (Godden) to an $80, 12-year fee skewed toward  (Mike O'Brien) are "pay-as-you-go," meaning that they won't be bonded against and therefore won't be able to fund projects after they run out.

"I support putting a VLF increase on the ballot with the CTAC-III proposed mixture of projects—including the ability to bond against the revenue and address waterfront and South Lake Union street car connectivity," Classen wrote. However, "I also trust the concerns of social justice champions on the CTAC-III committee were included in the proposal and am willing to consider a lower fee of $60 given these uncertain economic times that have played out over the past week as long as it contained support for bonding."

I have a call out to Rasmussen to find out if he now supports a ten-year fee and whether he wants the fee to help pay for streetcar expansion.
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