by: Essex Porter Updated:King County, Wash. —
With roads crumbling and Metro bus service at risk, many suburban King County mayors are asking for higher taxes. Voters said it's going to be a tough sell. Because the state legislature has been gridlocked for more than a year on transportation, King County leaders plan to go to the voters themselves. "Something is broken in Olympia," said Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci.
The $130 million King County tax package would provide $80 million to preserve Metro bus service. Cities and the county would split $50 million for roads and bridges.
Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus told Council members today, "To be able to keep our people moving and to be able to keep the commerce moving, we definitely need to find funding for those roads."
The money would come from a $60 vehicle fee, and a sales tax increase equal to 10 cents on a $100 purchase. It will cost King County taxpayers an estimated $11 a year. Voters we met in Auburn were opposed to higher taxes for transportation. "Washington needs to come up with a different source of revenue other than always resorting to increase tax, increase tax, increase tax," said Betty King. "I think they already have too much money, and they need to learn how to use it better. It's what I think. So would I vote for that? No," said George Harding.
It's talk that worries Derrick Lacomb, who's worried that Metro cuts will cost him direct bus service to his job in Seattle. "They should try waking up at 3 in the morning to get on a certain bus on a certain route and catch four buses," he said.
Unless the legislature passes a transportation package, King County leaders are planning to ask voters to approve the higher taxes in April.