Opinion

Have your say on new car tab fee

Issues surrounding a potential road tax makes for a study in contrasts this week between the cities of North Bend and Snoqualmie.

Snoqualmie is exploring the creation of a Transportation Benefit District in city limits, which would be empowered to collect a $20 license fee to pay for upkeep of roads.

North Bend, meanwhile, has backed off from creating their own new TBD.

The impacts of a recession on citizens has been a major factor in North Bend’s decision not to seek the tax. Snoqualmie, meanwhile, grew massively over the last decade at the expense of infrastructure, and is looking to the new fees as a solution to replace lost state funding.

The single speaker who came to a May 24 Snoqualmie public hearing on the new tax was adamantly against the idea. More taxes, she said, won’t help the local economy. She suggested the city tighten its belt instead.

Replying to her comments last week, Councilman Charles Peterson pointed to the history that brought us to this place. Tim Eyman’s Initiative 695 eliminated hefty car tab fees a decade ago. When the city was less than a fifth of its present size, Snoqualmie received some $20,000 annually for road repairs from the MVET. Today, Peterson said, it’s hard to say how much the city might be bringing in from motor vehicle excise taxes if the state hadn’t upheld the initiative.

Peterson added that if Snoqualmie doesn’t create its own locally controlled TBD, King County may set a blanket one, with Valley citizens having little say where local dollars are going.

So, is a new car fee right for Snoqualmie? An extra $20 dollar fee doesn’t sound like much compared with the $300-plus tabs that folks used to pay, and city officials have been touting the need for infrastructure fixes for the past year. Fixes are needed: Meadowbrook Way is so filled with potholes that it might need to be renamed Whack-a-mole Way.

That said, times are tough and every little new tax adds up. The decision is not made yet, and more people need to weigh in to give city council members a clear picture.

Snoqualmie residents have another chance to speak on the matter before it goes to a vote. The TBD will be discussed in detail at the two annual Snoqualmie Town Hall Meetings, 6 p.m. tonight and tomorrow, June 2 and 3, at Snoqualmie City Hall.

Expect to hear city officials make the case for a TBD and other infrastructure fixes and take an instant poll on the matter.

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