Car tab tax may be returningBY PAM STEVENS | EDITOR November ballots will include transit and road issues It takes over 30 minutes just to cross the trestle. Highway 9 seems to be getting more and more congested every day and I-5, well that’s a whole other story.
Traffic here in Snohomish County is becoming more and more crowded and frankly, with the I-5 makeover going on right now it doesn’t feel like it will end anytime soon.
On the November ballot, voters in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties will find a Roads and Transit Package they will be asked to vote on. The package will give Regional Transportation Investment District (RTID) money needed for major expansion projects for both transit expansion and road improvements.
RTID is asking voters to approve a $16.5 billion budget with $9.8 billion going to transit which would include light rail expansion, more rapid transit including busses, more Park and Ride slots, a new Sounder Station in Edmonds and a Sounder parking garage in Mukilteo.
The other $6.7 billion will go to road improvements throughout the three counties including US 2 trestle and Monroe bypass, expanding SR 9 from 176th to SR 92 to five lanes, completing SR 522, fix chokepoints on I-5, widening SR 524 and a SR 531 Arlington extension, just in Snohomish County.
“We are not proposing any major new roads and our goal is to reduce congestion and safety on Interstate 5 in Everett,” Dave Somers, Snohomish County Councilmember said at a Lake Stevens city council meeting.
But where will the money come from?
In Lake Stevens and Granite Falls, sales tax would be increased .1 of a percent. Others in Snohomish County along with King and Pierce counties will see their sales tax increase .6 of a percent, which means when Lake Stevens and Granite Falls residents shop anywhere else, they too will be paying the increased sales tax. This is because parts of Snohomish County do not receive Sound Transit services and won’t be charged for them.
RTID is also asking for the return of the car tab tax. The motor vehicle excise tax will be $80 for every $10,000 worth of value on a vehicle per year.
Somers was quick to point out that all money raised in Snohomish County will be used for Snohomish County roads and transit services.
“King County was looking for ways to fund the viaduct and floating bridge, they were told no,” Somers said. “The money has to go for projects on the list.
Neal Dooley, Lake Stevens city councilmember had concerns of cost overruns.
“If projects are going way over, there will have to be judgments made at that time,” Somers assured him. “We wouldn’t be able to do that unless it was voted on. There is no authority to raise sales tax or these cost amounts, there is not even the authority to add new projects.”
Heather Coleman, City Council President, wants to see higher wage jobs come to the east side of the trestle in order to keep traffic to a minimum during high traffic volume.
“It is going to be a very hard sell in this community,” Coleman said. “I think that one of the things that would really help sell this is to have family wage jobs here in the community so they don’t have to cross the trestle.”
One way to look at the ballot measure is to realize that 40 percent of the money will go towards roads and 60 percent will go to light rail.
Now it’s the voters’ turn to decide if they want to spend the money or not.
For more information on exact roads and expansion projects listed you can visit www.rtid.org.