News Aug 10, 2011 at 4:00 am

Is It Worth It?

Comments

1
I support the fee! Let's do it, Seattle :)
2
The $100 cost is well worth it, and I drive a car.
3
Let's see, get rid of the ride free area, timed the buses properly so you don't have 10 358s running back to back, and work on cutting cost and labor. That would solved the issue with all the gang bangers downtown as well as save on cost.

Also why should we approve another funding source for road improvements when the Mind the Gap is still in affect? So I'm thinking NO, No we do not need to fund an piss poor manager bus system. No we do not need to fund for more streets and sidwalks. And HELL No we do not need more bike lanes. Let the bikers do what they do now and ride on the side walk.
4
Definitely support the $80 car tab fee. As a biker and a car owner, it's a good investment. I like the mayor's plan to make it permanent so we can bond off of it. What's gonna change in eight years?

Roads are still going to need maintenance, and we're still going to be growing as a community that needs to get around.
5
Preparing and earmarking a budget in anticipation of soliciting funds is easy. However we all know the money won't be spend as planned and during the next go around "they will tell us that we need them and that what they do is too complicated for us to understand. They will tell us it won’t happen again. They will ask for millions more." As a driver I have no problem paying resonable car tab fees, of course since every year they seem to go way up or way down it's hard to tell. I just bought mine today and paid $81 for a 94 Trooper. This fee is based on my cars value, if I owned a brand new Mercedes I would pay a lot more. Well why not calculate what is needed and assign it proportionally? I know folks who have cars who can barely keep gas in them. Coming up with another 100 bucks all at once is not as easy as possible. Lastly, since bikers and bus people also use the road why not look for fees there. My friend takes a bus to and from Queen Anne 5 days a week, he also makes well over 6 figures.
6
"Seattle voters tend to be willing to pay for the kind of city we want."

Unfortunately the voter population also includes assholes.

I would pay a shitload more in taxes to make Seattle better, but I'm not allowed to because the 'I got mine' crowd always steps in to prevent taxes with a slippery slope argument.

Who the fuck thought we would actually be pushing for new taxes? It's a sad state of affairs.
7
These regressive taxes unfairly target the lower classes, just like all sales taxes. It's time for Washington to adopt a state income tax and stop targeting the poor.
8
Why should car drivers pay for improvements to Metro and bike routes? If the city needs more money for bike lanes then maybe they should implement bicycle registration and let the people who use them pay for them.
10
I'm all for voting for both. I just want to make sure the money is going where they promise it will.
11
The only people who have a problem with this are the ignorant slackjaws who think driving a car isn't one of the most heavily subsidized activities a person can partake in.
12
My biggest problem with increasing the car tab fee is that it is yet another regressive tax in this regressive fucking state. It will cost $100 whether you're driving a $35,000 Lexus or a $400 shitbox.

What's so great about that? Nothing.

I will be opposing the city portion of the tax for that reason. Our state has to pull its head out of its collective ass and finally institute a progressive income tax.
13
My biggest problem with increasing the car tab fee is that it is yet another regressive tax in this regressive fucking state. It will cost $100 whether you're driving a $35,000 Lexus or a $400 shitbox.

What's so great about that? Nothing.

I will be opposing the city portion of the tax for that reason. Our state has to pull its head out of its collective ass and finally institute a progressive income tax.
14
Sorry for the double post.
15
If it wasn't for liberals' myriad of regressive fees, taxes and other cash thievery, we'd never be able to convince the lower classes to vote against an income tax.

Thanks!
16
@13 I think you have to pull your head out of your ass and realize that our state isn't getting an income tax at least until the Inslee administration ends.
17
@8 "Why should car drivers pay for improvements to Metro and bike routes?"

I do not understand how anyone could espouse or be swayed by such a ridiculous, self-absorbed and small-minded argument. It's like you don't understand the concept of benefiting from government not directly focused on you. "I don't see why I should pay for police or jails. I don't need to be arrested or incarcerated."

Bonus points if you knee-jerked something about needing those services so that poor (more likely brown) people don't mess things up for the rest of us, without noticing the parallel.
18
I hope they put $80 on the ballot, it won't have a chance in hell. Only the tiny fraction of white, liberal urbanists with college degrees will vote for this regressive tax.

Does McGinn think lower class voters are gonna vote to 'take $80 from my pocket please so some kid with a college degree and a hankering for life during his summer break in Prague can enjoy a tram'?
19
Having grown up in king county, living here all my life, I have never had to own a car thanks to how awesome our mass transit is. Installing a fleet of street cars (at the expense of people who probably wouldnt use it) wouldnt improve my ability to get around town.
20
I have a car and I support the $100.

Besides, that is like 2/3rds of a month of Commute Tolls for the Deeply Tolled Tunnel!
21
I pay $50 a week to fill my gas tank, realistically, I don't see $100 over the course of a year as being a fee that is going to make or break people's budgets. I'm also getting tired of this "every man for himself" attitude. Why do people think that having money is a greater measure of wealth than having a healthy, thriving COMMUNITY? Also, as a car driver, the more that I support mass transit and bikes, the clearer the roads are going to be for me... or the more likely I am to take a bus instead of drive.
22
"Why do people think that having money is a greater measure of wealth than having a healthy, thriving COMMUNITY?"

Man, you guys are great. Without you and your regressive taxes, the left might actually win at the polls. Thanks again for helping convince the lower classes that the looney left doesn't have their interest at heart.
23
@17 - Surely you can see the difference between everyone paying for education and jails and taxing just the automobile owners to pay for bike/metro improvements.
24
I definitely support transit, and I have no problem paying taxes.

However, if the money is to be used to build more financially unsustainable trolleys that hemorrhage millions of dollars every year from our already-beleaguered transit system, and that burn more energy per rider than an Escalade, no right-minded liberal should support it.
25
@8 If you want to know why car drivers should pay for transit improvements, vote no and tell us all how much longer your commute takes every day when the tens of thousands of people like me, who own a car but commute to work by bus, have to switch to driving on our already congested streets.
26
@23... So, it's wrong to tax car owners to pay for bike and transit improvements, but it's okay to tax homeowners—some of whom don't own cars—to pay for roads? Is that you're logic?
27
"it's okay to tax homeowners—some of whom don't own cars—to pay for roads? "

Depends......do they get around by flapping their arms?
28
James Yamasaki's graphic is excellent.
30
Yes on the $20 Metro fee. I believe them when they say they've worked to improve operational efficiency, and I'd hate to see any more degredation of county transit services.

No on the Seattle $80 fee. I don't trust an administration run by McGinn to manage it efficiently and effectively. Any other recent Seattle mayor, and I'm on board.

And I don't think I'm going to be alone in this conclusion.
31
Well lookie here, I just got my annual tab renewal within the city of Seattle for a 2003 Honda. Let's go over what's ALREADY THERE:

1) $3 filing fee
2) $18 RTA fee
3) $30 license fee
4) $10 vehicle weight fee
5) $0.75 license computer fee
6) $20 "Transportation Benefit District" fee, AKA the Seattle has already imposed the fee increase fee.
TOTAL: $81.75 not including the $5 parks donation which I will be removing.

King County is looking to impose an additional $20 fee to save Metro service. That's fine, no objections.

TOTAL: $101.75

But that's as high as it should go for someone who's barely scraping by. Seattle should impose NO additional fee unless it is progressively taxed. Here are some options:

1) Return of the MVET. If you're driving a new Prius, I want to hear nary a complaint about paying $230 in tax on a $23,000 vehicle. Make it 1% of assessed value per year. If that's too big a bite for our poor distressed Audi owners, offer an installment plan that spreads it over the year for additional service fees, same as if it were car insurance.

2) CITY income tax. Does Seattle City Council actually want to lead the state? Well, they could impose a progressive income tax for once, instead of trying to raise my sales tax above 10% every goddamn election. Make it simple....something like 3 or 4 tax brackets, with the first $25,000 of adjusted gross income exempt. I bet you a nickel our citizens would support it (unlike the mouthbreathers in the rest of the state) and when the law was eventually taken to the WA Supreme Court, it would be upheld.

Booyah, case law supporting an income tax. Say goodbye to our state trying to do everything on a horrendously volatile sales tax----might I add, in a state that borders a state with a ZERO percent sales tax. Money talks, and it pushes Vancouver consumers across the river to Portland.
32
"I bet you a nickel our citizens would support it "

THat's what you said about the bag tax.
33
#30
You are spot on and this $80 fee could be turned into a referendum on the mayor and the bicyclists who take pleasure in creating a moving traffic jam of motorists unfortunate enough to be stuck behind them.

This fee PROMISES IN LAW NOTHING. It is just promises and "trust us in city hall".

Does anyone trust promises by McGinn anymore?
34
I support the fee for my 2 cars but also believe that bus prices should go up to at least 2 dollars a ride. For this you get somewhere. If you did a round trip per day, this would be 120 per month, a fraction of the cost of car ownership. It seems that there are bus riders who believe that they are due some incredible subsidy despite the incredible bargain that transit represents.
35
Nope, I said nothing of the sort. The bag tax was a stupid idea doomed to failure.
36
@31, I would absolutely LOVE to move toward a more progressive tax, like an MVET if not income tax. But the problem is, the legislature doesn't give King County or Seattle that option.

Yes, these taxes are regressive. But they're our only option at the moment. So our choice is, levy these taxes, or do without.
37
It only makes sense to increase the cost of bus rides if drivers are forced to pay the actual cost of their vehicles. Most people would not be able to afford to drive cars if their gas and roads weren't so heavily subsidized as to make it possible for the unwashed hordes.
38
@23 "Surely you can see the difference between everyone paying for education and jails and taxing just the automobile owners to pay for bike/metro improvements."

_THE_? I can see all sorts of differences between those. Very few of them provide even the flimsiest of support for your argument; you know, the one that I already labeled "ridiculous, self-absorbed and small-minded". Acting incredulous doesn't exactly disprove the parallel I drew.

– And don't call me Shirley.
39
Maybe if the bus system actually work NOW, people wouldn't mind paying more.

Why throw good money after bad?
40
These transit improvements would be run by the city, not Metro, so we can expect maybe a little higher level of competency.
41
I have 2 cars and 2 bikes in my household and will not support the $80 VLF for 2 reasons:
1. Not enough for Pavement Preservation.
2. Subsidy for bicycle “safety” master plan. They need use the same roads and bridges and need to pay a registration and license for the same or above the average car tab fee. The proposed subsidy for bicycles is $220 per year per commuter when include the Seattle $20 VLF that started in May. They use the same roads and need to contribute.

I read even with Bridge the Gap (BGT), annual maintenance backlog grew from $88M to $142M in the last 5 years. This averages $10.8M per year, whereas only $5M being allocated at $80 VLF. It could be worse:

The SDOT Paving Prioritization Report at August 8 meeting stated ”The present level of investment in pavement rehabilitation, approximately $20.3M/yr over the remaining life of the Bridging the Gap (BTG) initiative, is far below the base $37M/yr level of investment needed to stabilize the condition of Seattle’s arterial streets. Even with the additional funding proposed by the CTAC3, Seattle’s main arterials will continue to deteriorate and pothole repairs will become more frequent in the coming years. Given this gap, ongoing street maintenance efforts will need to balance infrastructure renewal with the demand for safety repairs on failing streets.”

Translated into common language by and for motorist: Motorist will continue to see deterioration in the infrastructure while we divert funds. Funds not only to improve transit and help the poor with transit, but for special interest hiding behind “Safety” that could and should pay for their projects.

And the biker master plan implementation is even increasing the problem by wanting new bike lanes and expecting someone else to pay for maintenance for what already have.

In April 22, 2011 letter from Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board (SBAB) to Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee III (CTAC III) they stated that with limited new revenue sources the priority should be new biking facilities over maintaining current biking facilities. Further they stated:

“It should be noted that maintenance and safety spot improvement projects, such as fixing pot-holes, retrofitting drainage grates, restriping worn markings, adding more bike detection at signalized intersections, and other routine right of way improvements are high on our priority list and that for the sake of this exercise, we assume that funding for these much needed items will be provided through other sources.”

Translated- Give me more and someone else can pay to maintain and improve what I have.
42
This is the way is used to be before Tim Eyman (the King of ridiculous and destructive measures) convinced everyone to think of only themselves and not public transit. I would VOTE for it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Eyman
43
@41 and everyone else who thinks bicyclists should be paying the same for road maintenance as cars.
Bikes are not nearly as destructive and harsh on the pavement and asphalt as the gargantuan death traps so many insist they are entitled to. Perhaps bikers should only be responsible for the upkeep of car-less trails (i.e. Burke-Gilman) which, except for some over zealous roots growing under it in some places stays relatively smooth and enjoyable with very minimal wear and tear.
44
It took decades of deferred street maintenance to get us where we are. It will take decades to fix the problem. My advice is to invest in heavy duty shock absorbers or a vehicle with enormous tires.
45
Im completly against the fees! why is it every time there is a shortfall, the people driving to work are the one who get taxed more? So the mayor is a bike rider... what does he want a medal? maybe since the bicyle riders and joggers seem to be getting all these new lanes, which I might add is actually making seattle more congested due to reduced traffic lanes, they should contribute. I find it interesting that I own a house and a car, because I work 60 to 70 hours a week and am asked, no forced is more like it, to pay huge taxes for those that rent and ride or walk. Its time to make bikes pay for their own lanes. make all bycicles get a plate, force them to pay for insurance, tax their helmets, tax their water bottles, tax the joggers shoes and spandex. I am tired of footing the bill for eveyone else!
46
To those who want to tax cyclists separately, really, how many cyclists are there that don't also have a car with insurance, paying all the applicable motorist fees less a little gas tax? Maybe a relative few who live on cap hill or downtown, plus some penurios students living on ramen? Shall I pay twice over for the privilege of riding my bike home from work once or twice a week? And to whoever was going on about raising bus fare to two dollars; current one-zone (within Seattle city limits) off-peak fare is 2.25, peak is 2.50.

I am a little dubious of this stategy of painting in bike lanes everywhere. In most cases, they're not actual lanes. A parked car will still pull out right in front of you, or open a door in your path of travel. Those stripes may give a false sense of security. I always have to remind myself to focus, especially going down hills: heads, doors, lights... Heads, doors, lights... I'd rather see some of that money go for pavement repair which benefits both cars and bikes. I almost bit it hard last weekend when my back wheel caught the edge of a chuck hole while making a correct, polite left turn through an intersection. They're bike striping that very street this week... Sigh...
47
And by the way, to the vast majority of courteous, reasonable drivers out there, thank you. From the driver's side of the equation I think we most often hear from the rabidly anti-bike people. "tax their spandex!" That doesn't reflect my personal experience while riding, it's not as adversarial out there as blog or news story commentaries would have you believe.
49
Geez Goldy, I hate to say what I'm about to say because I usually like what you write. Honest. But oh boy oh boy, what fuckin' mushrooms have you been eating? I suppose it's worthwhile to know that liberals can be just as stupid as Sarah Palin; if I should ever need reminding, I'll just find this utterly brainless article of yours and read it again. What utterly dishonest, disconnected drivel you've just puked out. Are you feeling well? Running a temperature, maybe?

First off, Goldy, have you noticed that we are in the midst of a depression? That $80 fee would double the cost of a lot of registrations. A whole lot of people simply cannot afford it! You've got folks who wait two days to eat at the end of the month. No shit, they camp out at the door of Wal-Mart, stomachs growling, at midnight on the first day of the new month, because that's when their welfare card will kick in and let them eat. And you just wave your hand and ask for another 80 bucks? Holy Christ, what ivory tower do you dwell in?

And look at that phony citizens committee proposal you've touted. Christ, I do hope someone bribed you to do it, because no one should just give away his integrity as you've done. Out of $27 million, only $5 million actually goes to patch up the streets, which desperately need the patching. It's not 30%, it's 19%. Do the god damned math. Twice as much goes for light rail, which the last time I looked I thought was funded by that big property tax referendum a long time ago. You mean they lied to us about that, too? Perish the thought, but fuck 'em if they think they'll get it from car tab fees.

Oh, and while we're at it, let's talk about McGinn and his crew holding us hostage by forcing us to approve a referendu, or they won't do one of their most basic jobs, which is to fill the goddamn pot holes. It's an age-old tactic: hold a shotgun to our heads. Thanks for the threats, you pissants!

Back to that so-called citizens committee. $4 million goes to a paperwork mountain. The lovely thumb suckers at City Hall will work (if you can call it “work”) on “development and implementation of an Alternative Transit Delivery study, in partnership with King County Metro, to identify the most efficient and effective means of making neighborhood connections for areas that are underserved by traditional service or where traditional service does not work as well.”

And here's another gem: “Educational programs to encourage ridership and help shift mode shares.” Fuck you, do gooders! If I want to take the bus, I know where it is. If I want to ride a bike, I know where mine is. And I walk enough already. Remember: There's a depression on! These are tough times. People are literally not eating, and you want $4 million for that bullshit? What planet do you live on? What solar system do you inhabit?

And now, for the crowning touch: $5 million to fix the crumbling streets, but $5.4 million for bicycle paths and sidewalks. The latter which have customarily been funded through property taxes. But now you actually think drivers will vote to double their tab fees for this. Cyclistas, if you want bike paths, pay a separate bike registration fee. We're all in it together, so take your greedy hipster hand out of my fuckin' pocket 'cause it's empty anyway.

You know what, Goldy? Bring it on. Make my fuckin' day. In fact, how about changing it from an extra $80 to an extra $300? The bigger it is, the louder the thud you'll hear. And, by the way, you'd better brace yourself for something else to happen in November: The defeat of the families and education levy. You want to load up the ballot with stupid taxes? Heckuva job, Brownie, but don't be surprised when the voters here give you a stiff middle finger. I'm here to tell ya, that's what will happen. Maybe that's what you're secretly hoping for?
50
It bears repeating: during these terrible economic times, raise taxes either progressively or not at all. Seattle doesn't have to sit on its hands and eschew income-based taxes, despite what Goldy says.

Pass a law, wait for a challenge, take it to the State Supreme Court. This is why we pay those Justices to sit down there.
51
The problem with the $80 is the 50% that goes to dedicated "transit corridors" what this means is that they will take away lanes from cars a la Elliot/15th Ave. for no good reason. It creates gridlock for no reason (except to get people used to it and putting in a stupid track instead of a bus.) It's ridiculous. Go to Vancouver and see all the three lanes in both directions synchronized care and transit solutions. Seattle needs to look at big cities not little ones and trying to crush cars is NOT the solution.
52
Pass a law, wait for a challenge, take it to the State Supreme Court. This is why we pay those Justices to sit down there.

First off, I voted in favor of a statewide income tax. I think it's a good idea for all the usual reasons. I also think Oregon should have a state sales tax. They are leaving money on the table by not doing so.

However, as it concerns Washington State, the state constitution was long ago interpreted to forbid an income tax. The only way around it is to amend the state constitution, and it failed. I think a city income tax would be not just illegal, but foolish. It would drive people away.

A better idea would be to press King County's representatives to try to keep more of the state revenues generated here. We subsidize the rest of the state to an obscene degree. All they do is turn around and bitch at Seattle. So let's cut off the money. That's something Goldy harps on, and where I agree with him in a big way.

But a city income tax? It's a stupid idea, and it will never fly. In fact, I'd be kind of surprised if, at the end of the day, you could even pass the referendum.
53
First,
Eliminate all free parking. Cars are the only thing that get free rent. Then if the parking revenue is not enough, charge the fee.
54
I'm voting against additional fees. I support the $20 for buses, I buy a bus pass, bike and drive. But I'm not a big fan of making drivers pay such high fees and so little of it going into roads. In my case I keep an old pickup around for hauling that I only use about once a month. So I'd get hit with twice the fee increases, not something I can really afford easily in these tough economic times.
55
I don't like the multi purpose Tax that Seattle's grunge junkies and pooter geeks seem to swallow like a box turtle on a hook baited with lobster tail?

They are under the gun? as it seems they always are and old women and men and children are dangling as all of us unemployed looses are?

no more free rides down town for the elderly and disabled or anybody?

first they spent a bunch on new bus stops and then they pulled all the bench's out as drug junkies were using them and they put in 1,000,000 public toilets and then yanked them out as drug junkies were using them and your tax money is not being spent the way you want it to begin with? see 5 years of Alaska Via duct replacement soap opera with even our beloved sea hag governor who has decided this state of lame bitches is not worth the pain and frustration?

RTA tax is "thee" tax for Region transportation! this should be a state tax and should be run by the state for many reasons most of which stem from city and county ability to not be able to resist million dollar public toilets.

Your road tax should be a "road" tax from the state with an additional fee from regions for high traffic areas and ferry's and trains and bikes if need be.

The economy was good and they asked for more! the economy was bad and they asked for more!
the middle east was quiet they asked for more!
the middle east was loud they asked for more?

fortunate son's must be running the circus?
56
Oh yeah, here's one: End the downtown bus free ride area.
57
I'm happy to pay another $100 annually. I own a car but also frequently take the bus and cycle. I'm happy to pay for the variety of transportation options I enjoy.
59
Seattle $60 VLF –Equality and Social Justice for non- bikers?

STBD board (same members as Seattle City Council) passed proposed $60 VLF (Vehicle License Fee) applicable for 10 years for November ballot. There was discussion about amount poor car owners would pay and lack of transit in south Seattle. Also discussed was inequity of total funding by car tabs, but not one word about bicycles not paying their share.

29% pavement preservation does not cover current annual shortfall. The 49% transit funding is not for Metro buses and routes, but mostly Seattle rail. 22% for pedestrian and bicycle safety. Code words for continued conversion of 2 vehicle lanes into 1 shared lane for cars, trucks, and buses and 1 exclusive bicycle lane for the next 10 years. Thus increased congestion and commute time for everyone but bicyclist.

Yet bicyclists refuse to pay anything, much less a registration and annual license fee equal to an average car (shortly about $200). Bicycle safety amounts are $173 per bicyclist. Their share is even more.

If $60 VLF passes, car drivers and transit riders can reflect that they voted for and are paying to see increased pot holes, increase in congestion, and a minimum $200 annual subsidy per bicyclist for the next 10 years.

This is equitable and just?
60
Yea, thanks, more tax for the poor. This is one of the worst regressive tax city in the country. This car tab increase will surely make Seattle number one. Everything operates on the backs of the poor here, it's pathetic.
61
I'm not for it. Originally from NJ, car registration was already a whopping 75$ for my sedan. Now for it to be $100 or more to fund things that... AN INCOME TAX pays for in nearly every other state....

I don't use the buses, nearly ever. They're never where i need them to be or go, nor are they friendly for those who may need to travel with items ever, OR when they are inconvenient to get to with out a car in the first place. Its not safe for a woman to wonder areas looking for a bus at night alone! Even out here in safer Washington.

Keep things moderate so that us barely employed can still afford to get to work.

62
What is in the water here? You already pay through the nose for vehicle tabs. Moving here after living in AZ & OR was sticker shock. I always voluntarily paid more to donate to environmental groups with my plates and tabs, but I can't afford that here. And you want to raise it? I'm a full-time student on loans, that extra $100 gouges deep.
63
Gee, shocking. The Stranger supports a fee increase. What happened to the $20 increase in car tabs that the city pushed for and got last year that was supposed to handle some of the very same problems they are asking for $60 more this year? You can't just keep throwing $ at a problem and make it go away. Make our city council and mayor responsible for doing what they said they were going to do LAST year or we'll be back here in another year and I bet you a cup of coffee they're asking for a further increase to fix the same problems they are suggesting this year.
64
This will go well for The Stranger. Just look at how persuasive they were on the tunnel!
65
How about we raise the car tab taxes in Seattle to $1000 per year per car and we can end all transportation problems, no wait let's increase it to $10,000 per year and we can have everything we want including an end to homelessness and hunger.
66
No more taxes you Seattle idiots. Car registration fees average $40.00 in the US. This proposal would put our fees at $130.00. RIP OFF

Cut routes, who cares. I should not have to pay for people too cheap to drive a car.. Or for people with suspended drivers licenses from DUI's... Those are the only people who take the bus.

VOTE NO!
67
No more taxes you Seattle idiots. Car registration fees average $40.00 in the US. This proposal would put our fees at $130.00. RIP OFF

Cut routes, who cares. I should not have to pay for people too cheap to drive a car.. Or for people with suspended drivers licenses from DUI's... Those are the only people who take the bus.

VOTE NO!
68
Also you can tell that the only people on here who are supporting this tax DONT OWN CARS.

Easy to support a tax you don't have to pay for.

How about the common sense solution. Increasing bus fares. Oh ya too much common sense for such a retarded city.

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