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Eyman calls for vote on county's proposal for new car-tab fee

Fee proposed as way to fund road work in county

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By Noah Haglund
Herald Writer
@NWHaglund
Published:
EVERETT — Tim Eyman paid what he said was his first-ever visit to the Snohomish County Council on Wednesday to deliver his anti-tax message.
The cause du jour: opposing a proposed $20 car-tab fee for people in unincorporated Snohomish County.
The fee doesn’t sit well with Eyman, the prolific voter-initiative activist. The bright-yellow lettering on his blue sweatshirt summed up his position: “Let the voters decide.”
“Why don’t you abide by the consistent message that if you want higher car-tab fees, then make the case?” Eyman asked the council during a public-comment period.
Those comments came during a hearing about forming a transportation benefit district. Under state law, the county is allowed to form a special taxing district to raise money for road projects. Once the district’s in place, the County Council can take a separate vote to impose a $20 car-tab fee — without putting the issue to voters.
The discussion comes as county leaders are worrying about long-term funding for road projects. The transportation district is one of several options being explored for providing stable roads funding.
The Snohomish County transportation district would include approximately 300,000 residents of unincorporated areas. The cities of Edmonds, Lynnwood and Snohomish have formed the districts, though only Edmonds has imposed the $20 fee. On Election Day, Edmonds voters overwhelmingly rejected the city’s proposal to raise the car-tab fee by another $40.
As it turns out, no County Council vote took place Wednesday. Instead, the hearing was continued until 10:30 a.m. Dec. 1. Council members were unable to vote because advertisements for the meeting omitted the list of projects proposed for the district.
Eyman was one of four people to make public comments during Wednesday’s hearing. Others included Kristin Kelly and Bill Lider from the Pilchuck Audubon Society and a civil engineer from Brier. Two people in the audience also held anti-tax signs.
Eyman is most famous for promoting Initiative 695, the 1999 state ballot measure that was supposed to keep car-tab fees at $30. For him, the possible $20 car-tab increase would ignore the voters’ intent. He calls it “tab creep.”
“Once you can do $20, you can do $50,” he said. “Once you do $50, you can do $100.”
If the road projects the politicians want to fund are so important, he argues, then they should let voters approve any tax increases to pay for them.
Eyman’s fresh off the success of Initiative 1053. Nearly 64 percent of Washington voters on Election Day — and more than 66 percent in Snohomish County — approved the measure to require a two-thirds vote by the Legislature to impose new taxes.
Eyman has traditionally focused his attention on state government, but of late has taken his campaign to several local governments.
Voters in Eyman’s hometown of Mukilteo recently approved a measure requiring a public vote any time city officials want to install photo-enforcement cameras to catch red-light runners or speeders. The new law also limits fines to $20, equal to the least expensive parking ticket.
On Tuesday, Eyman paid a visit to the Monroe City Council, urging the city to ask voters before using traffic-enforcement cameras.
Also this week, he asked the state Transportation Commission to hold off on increasing ferry fares or imposing tolls on the 520 bridge before an upcoming state attorney general opinion about how Initiative 1053 would apply to these increases.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » County CouncilRoadsTaxes

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