Olympia Dispatch

House Bill Aims to Fix Sound Transit's Inflated Car Values

But the bill would cost Sound Transit an estimated $780 million.

By Hayat Norimine April 17, 2017

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Taken in May 2015. 

A House bill in the state legislature is heading into the Senate after a unanimous vote among House Democrats, and it would cut an estimated $780 million from Sound Transit from taxes approved by voters last year.

The bill, sponsored by state representative Mike Pellicciotti of Federal Way, would provide tax relief for voters after a Sound Transit proposition to increase taxes for better mass transit services passed in November. Democrats are responding to voters' sticker shock and Seattle Times reports that Sound Transit is overestimating the value of cars in its motor vehicle excise tax. (Sound Transit has been using values from the 1996 instead of the legislature's most recent 2006 estimates on car valuations, essentially making owners pay more taxes for their cars than they're worth.)

"If we're smart about this, we can do this while still maintaining the will of the voters," said state representative Mike Pellicciotti, of the 30th District (Federal Way). 

If implemented, the bill would create a market value adjustment by the end of the year and issue tax credits based on the difference, for those who have already paid the motor vehicle excise tax. Ricardo Gotla, from the Transportation Choices Coalition, said Sound Transit would lose $2 billion in funding from both direct and indirect costs. 

House Bill 2201 passed out of the House with a 64-33 vote; some Republicans didn't think the bill went far enough. Tim Eyman—the Mukilteo conservative activist who lobbied against the bill last year, and is getting sued by Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson—spoke in front of the House Transportation Committee last week with strongly-worded testimony, calling the tax measure a fraud and Sound Transit "a spoiled child in need of parental supervision."

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