Renter says he’s forced to choose between paying car tabs or rent
The homelessness crisis in Western Washington is believe to be the result of a lot of factors — the opioid crisis, the dramatic rise in living costs, etc. Now, another burden could add to that difficulty of keeping a roof over your head — car tabs.
“These tabs are godawful expensive,” listener Casey told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show. “We got cheap cars to avoid paying these premium prices. My roommate got a lease to do the same. And now we are tapping into our rent.”
Casey is now wrestling with paying for high car tabs as a result of Sound Transit 3 — the voter-approved plan to build light rail and other transit solutions in Western Washington. A fee was added to the car tabs to help pay for the plan. But they have become controversial after it was discovered Sound Transit opted to use an outdated method to calculate the fees — one that inflates the value of cars to achieve a much higher price. Lawmakers have been scrambling to fix it ever since.
But while lawmakers wrestle with a fix, Casey is still burdened with the car tabs today. His household — with three cars — is on the hook for more than $1,600 in car tab fees. All three are commuters and the cars aren’t fancy. One is a Ford Focus. Another is a Toyota with decent gas mileage. And a roommate leased a car from his employer.
“And our rent is only $1,649,” Casey points out. “We are going to roll around with bad tabs for a bit because we have to choose. My roommate is going to wait for his tax return. I’m going to borrow some money from my dad to try to pay this.”
Car tabs and politics
Casey is aware that officials in Olympia have debated fixing the fee structure, but he isn’t holding his breath. In fact, the financial hits have changed his political outlook.
“I feel like they don’t care,” Casey said. “Especially our attorney general and our governor. I used to be a guy who was on the left. But because of them, I just keep getting pushed further and further away. I have zero trust in our state government here in Washington. I know we have some great reps in places, but it’s hard to be great when you have an attorney general who only cares about his pocket … I can tell you that I’ve lost all faith in the left in this state. They’ve lost my vote, my roommate’s vote, and my girlfriend’s vote in my household. I hope that’s a trend.”
“As things changed in this state, and jobs, taxes and prices … I’ve been pushed into being more conservative,” he added.
Hear Dori’s full conversation with Casey here.
- Tune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.