City Hall

Council Puts $60 Transportation Fee on Ballot

By Erica C. Barnett August 16, 2011

The city council voted this afternoon to put a $60 vehicle-license fee to pay for transportation on the November ballot on the November ballot. If it's passed, the fee will raise a little over $20 million a year, with $5.97 million (29 percent) of that paying for street maintenance and repair, $4.43 million (22 percent) paying for pedestrian and bike improvements, and $10 million (49 percent) paying for transit-related improvements.

The breakdown of projects is roughly the same as that proposed by the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC-III), the advisory group that suggested an $80 fee.

"A flat tax is, by its nature, not progressive," Licata said. "That being the situation, we have to be very careful about the investments we make so that the most people are benefited from them."

Conlin added: "My email is a mix of wild enthusiasm for $80 forever and incredulousness that we're putting anyhing on the ballot" at all.

Conlin's fee does not go as far as a proposal by council member Nick Licata to prohibit any spending on extending the South Lake Union streetcar to Ballard, but it does refocus streetcar spending in the center city. The city is assuming it will implement the maximum possible upzones for Vulcan-owned land in South Lake Union, which makes a South Lake Union streetcar extension pencil out.

The fee, if it passes, will bring the total new fees to pay for transportation to $100, including the $20 fee the city council passed earlier this year and the two-year $20 fee to preserve Metro bus service passed by the King County Council yesterday.
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