Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

The $60 Car-tab Fee Ballot Measure

Posted by Warren Peterson on September 4, 2011

Kudos to the Seattle Times for their September 2, 2011 front page article, “Seattle’s $60 car-tab fee: where it could go.” It raised a host of red flags starting with the word “could” in the title. That word means the ballot proposal is a “general plan” for where the $204,000,000 collected from car owners over ten years would be spent. The Seattle City Council actually gets the job of allocating the funds albeit under pressure from the bike lobby, transit supporters, neighborhood groups and any others with a favorite project. A clue to how that will work is a comment from Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the Transportation Committee, that the car-tab fee needs to get voted on this year before several new spending measures appear on the 2012 ballot.

If the Council did parcel out the money as supporters suggest, $18,000,000 goes to planning expansion of the streetcar system. No money is set aside for actually building it much less maintenance and operation. Shades of the voter approved library and parks capital improvements. The lion’s share of $99,500,000 transit money goes to Metro but for what “is preliminary at this point” and the “wishes from Metro and the city differ.” Bicycles scoop up $13,900,000 for “bike lanes, routes, signs, (and) parking” but again with no money to maintain those funny little stencils designating bike lanes. In short, it’s a pig in a poke that voters need to reject, but this is Seattle where detachment from reality is reality. Watch your wallets.

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