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

Puget Sound region storm...
MyNorthwest Staff

Storm knocks down trees, power lines, with handful of Puget Sound schools closing on Monday

A storm swept across the Puget Sound region over the weekend, with windy and rainy conditions expected to continue through the early portion of the week. 
7 hours ago
fall city...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Two dead after tree crushes car in Fall City

Two people are dead after a tree fell on a car in Fall City on Sunday afternoon, according to Eastside Fire and Rescue.
1 day ago
Paine Field...
Kathryn Altena

Paine Field recertified as ‘Salmon Safe’ by Oregon based nonprofit

Paine Field was recently recertified as "Salmon Safe" by an Oregon based environmental nonprofit, after first earning the certification in 2019.
1 day ago
MyNorthwest Staff

UW Medicine study seeks local participants to understand COVID spread

UW Medicine invites Washington state residents up to age 85 to submit a survey about their exposure to COVID during the pandemic as part of a study.
2 days ago
MyNorthwest Staff

Amazon hiring for more than 500 positions at new sort center in Fife

A new Amazon facility in Fife, Washington, that's set to open later this month has starting hiring for more than 500 positions.
2 days ago
Nicole Jennings

Rural Eastern Washington hospitals say no big losses in staffing post-vaccine mandate

Some of the rural Eastern Washington hospitals that were expected to have big losses after the vaccine mandate say things are going well.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Seattle council proposes raising car tab fees to address underfunded bridge maintenance