Lawmakers push for lower car tab fees following ST3 voter approval

by: Essex Porter Updated:

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OLYMPIA, Wash. - Car tab fees are based on the value of your car. But Sound Transit uses values based on the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price. 

Senate Republicans want to change that to much more realistic Kelley Blue Book values.

But that would cripple Sound Transit with a $6 billion cut in revenues.

Lynnwood Democratic Senator Marko Liias proposes a middle ground.

“I want to make sure that the value of the car is fair. You know voters approved the rate, but they didn't approve necessarily that value and that's what I need to make sure is fair,” he said.

Liias would use a lower value schedule developed in 2006.

He'd cover the loss by moving $518 million from the Sound Transit Taxpayer Accountability account.  It's a future sales tax payment that would go to King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

“The net effect is that taxpayers get a lower bill, they get a market value adjustment on their tabs. For folks that have already paid they would get a refund check for the difference,” Liias said.

For example, Liias says the owner of a 5 year-old Toyota Camry would pay $166 for tabs under the current law-- they'd get a $47 break under his proposal

But some lawmakers want more.  Republican House Member Mark Harmsworth is working on a list of changes.

Mill Creek Republican Rep. Mark Harmsworth is organizing a list of amendments to the House Transportation Budget.  “The op out for Pierce County which Pierce County voted overwhelmingly against Sound Transit,”  stands a good chance," he said.

While counties aren’t scheduled to receive any of the Sound Transit sales tax money until September of this year, Republican Sen.Steve O’Ban warns that some money was earmarked to help homeless children.

O’Ban says the money should come instead from the Sound Transit general fund.