LOCAL NEWS

Seattle council proposes raising car tab fees to address underfunded bridge maintenance

Nov 16, 2020, 12:13 PM | Updated: 12:13 pm
Bridge maintenance...
University Bridge and I-5. (Photo courtesy of SDOT Flickr)
(Photo courtesy of SDOT Flickr)

Seattle councilmembers unveiled an addition to the 2021 budget last week, which would raise car tab fees for the city’s residents by $20 to fund much-needed bridge maintenance operations.

A recent report published by the city auditor estimates that Seattle should be spending between $34 million and $102 million annually to meet engineering standards for bridge maintenance. Currently, the city spends roughly $10 million to that effect. By raising a vehicle licensing fee from $20 to $40, councilmembers estimate the city could raise an additional $3.6 million.

Audit finds Seattle doesn’t spend enough money on bridge maintenance

“Underfunding our bridge infrastructure increases the risk of harm and ends up costing taxpayers more later, so let’s listen to the independent audit and increase bridge maintenance now to keep our people and economy moving,” Seattle council transportation committee chair Alex Pedersen said in a written release.

While the city auditor’s report concluded that reduced spending on maintenance wasn’t the direct cause of the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, it noted that “the condition of the City’s bridges has worsened over the last 10 years.”

It also pointed out that the current situation with the West Seattle Bridge represents “an example of the strain imposed on the transportation network” when a bridge needs to be shut down suddenly for repairs.

Gov. Inslee open to reforming car tab system in Washington state

As SCC Insight’s Kevin Schofield points out, city council is able to unilaterally raise car tab fees thanks to authority granted to it by the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD), operating as the nine members of its governing board.

The last time the council used its authority to raise the city’s car tab fees was in 2010, when it OKed a $20 license fee. Tim Eyman’s I-976 car tab measure would have invalidated that fee, before it was struck down by the state Supreme Court in October.

Adding in the new fee, as well as proposed increases by Mayor Durkan and the council, the city’s bridge maintenance funding would increase to $18 million in 2021. And while that’s short of the $34 million minimum called for by the city auditor, it still “represents an incremental increase to begin meeting a clear need,” according to city officials.

Local News

Federal Way gun buyback...
Deborah Horne, KIRO 7 News

Federal Way’s gun buyback runs out of gift cards early

Hundreds of unwanted firearms were turned in Saturday in Federal Way’s first ever gun buyback. Owners received a gift card in return.
1 day ago
Frasier...
Bill Kaczaraba

Lovable radio host Frasier returns, but not to Seattle

Frasier, the lovable but loveless radio host who put Seattle on the map will not be returning to the Emerald City.
1 day ago
Capitol Hill shooting...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Investigation underway after man shot in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood

Police are investigating after a man was shot in the hip in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood on Saturday morning.
2 days ago
(Photo from KIRO 7)...
Julia Dallas, KIRO 7 News and Bridget Chavez, KIRO 7 News

Redmond police using vehicle-mounted GPS tracking system to track down fleeing suspects

The Redmond Police Department started using StarChase Pursuit in January to safely pursue fleeing suspects.
2 days ago
...
Deedee Sun, KIRO 7 News

Murder of Kent teacher calls attention to mental health crisis in Washington

A Tacoma mom stabbed and killed on Wednesday has been identified as 66-year-old Gail Gese, a teacher at Cedar Heights Middle School in Kent.
2 days ago
In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer reac...
Associated Press

Man rescued by Coast Guard wanted in ‘Goonies’ fish incident

A man who was saved by a Coast Guard rescue swimmer at the mouth of the Columbia River as a massive wave rolled the yacht he was piloting Friday was wanted for a bizarre incident in which police said he left a dead fish at the Astoria, Oregon, home featured in the classic 1985 film, "The Goonies."
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Seattle council proposes raising car tab fees to address underfunded bridge maintenance