Pierce County residents asked why they should continue to pay a light rail tax that more than 50 percent of them voted against in November. Now, there’s a push in Olympia to pull Pierce County out of the Sound Transit 3 taxing district.
State Senator Dino Rossi, who led the initial opposition to the creation of Sound Transit 21 years ago, is leading the way.
“It allows local jurisdictions to decide whether or not they want to be part of this,” he said. “The problem with this is: I live in Sammamish and we get the bill, but we will get a park-and-ride by the time I’m in a nursing home.”
This bill would apply to any jurisdictions inside the taxing district, including areas of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.
Meanwhile, another bill in Olympia would allow jurisdictions to opt out of the property tax component that just went into effect in January.
Senator Steve O’Ban, who is sponsoring the bill, says it’s a practical approach.
“It would force them to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better transportation system that isn’t so Seattle-centric,” he said.
It’s a leverage play.
I asked Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff about the idea of splintering off jurisdictions a few months ago, particularly in Pierce County. He says it would be a nightmare.
“For us to then have to enter into some kind of balkanized system where we have to terminate that service, [and] continue to assess taxes on the voters in Pierce County to pay off the bonds for the millions and millions of dollars we’ve already invested in Pierce County, it would be chaotic,” Rogoff said.