OLYMPIA - A flat $30 car tab fee is pocketbook-friendly on a personal level, but some local governments are balking at the passage of Initiative 976 after Tuesday’s general election.

Passing with a favorable margin of 55%, I-976 would limit annual license fees for cars weighing under 10,000 pounds at $30, bases vehicle takes on the Kelley Blue Book value rather than 85% of the manufacture’s base suggested retail price and repeals authorization for certain regional transit authorities to impose motor vehicle excise taxes.

On Wednesday, Washington state Governor Jay Inlsee announced all state transportation projects have been postponed considering I-976. The state estimates the initiative eliminates more than $4 billion in tax revenue by 2025. The change is expected to have an impact on transportation budgets on a state, county and local level.

“We’ve got concerns,” said Ephrata City Administrator Wes Crago. Crago says the city relies on state grant funding for arterial projects. Crago expressed relief that the Basin Street repave was taken care of prior to I-976’s passage. But Crago believes the city will now have to delay larger projects as a result of the state transportation funding void created by the new law. One project that will wait, according to Crago, is the Division St. repaving project.

Crago says the voters’ approval of the local sales tax increase for the benefit of local transportation helps but it mostly covers the cost of side street project and patching work.

Grant County Commissioner Cindy Carter says she and her fellow commissioners are looking into how the initiative affects her jurisdiction’s bottom line, but believes “there will be an impact,” but not a profound one.

East Wenatchee Councilman Tim Detering told iFIBER ONE News on Thursday that the city stands to lose $260,000 in transportation funding per year because of the general election. The new law eliminates the city’s $20 car tab fee which generated funds to pay for transportation projects. Prior to the election, Detering says the city had proposed to announce its stance against I-976, but a vote among council members nixed the proposal.

City of Moses Lake Finance Director Cindy Jensen appeared to be strongly opposed to it.

“I’m just amazed that people don’t understand that we need money for roads,” Jensen told iFIBER ONE News on Thursday. Jensen says it’s likely that the city will no longer receive State Transportation Improvement Board grants. Jensen also says multimodal money will go away resulting in a $32,000 hit to the transportation budget and $28,000 loss in funding from the disappearance of motor vehicle transport revenue.

“The 2019 Lakeshore Drive project likely wouldn’t have happened without state funding,” Jensen said.

The state is determining when I-976 will take effect, but it did tell the media that people renewing their vehicle registration can expect to pay in full until at least Dec. 5, 2019.

(10) comments

Desert Dweller

Try living out in the county, lucky if the road gets graded 3 times a year. Take a drive down deathtrap Hwy 17 South of Moses Lake. I don't know what they did with all the tax money but we didn't see it around here. Heck $30 is a bit pricey!


And yet that money is currently being spent on projects throughout the State, including in Eastern Washington. Cutting back on the funding son't get your roads graded. It will just ensure that other projects like rebuilding overpasses hit by semis will not get done. The projects are still there, whether or not we're funding them.


Eastern Wa. was thinking on this one. One Idea is to cut the budget of the dept. of Ecology through 2025 which equates close to 4 Billion. This will help fund the projects that are already in place, problem solved, very easy.


Here's an even better idea---let's cut funding for Medicare and fill the potholes with the corpses of the elderly when they die!! Seriously--why should money earmarked for ensuring that the state remains livable from an ecological standpoint be used to pave the roads? That's just plain silly.


We the people are sick of getting taxed to death. Pay for this, pay for that, government gets bigger and bigger with no signs of slowing down. We voted (hired) you gov't officials to solve problems with what you have. Government spending outpaces my pay raises, I get no publicly funded pension because I was a government employee (like cop, teacher, public works). I get to live on what I save when I retire. Plus, look at Division in Moses Lake. That road is a piece of garbage and embarrassing. Whoever paved it should be ashamed of themselves and whoever in government signed off on it should be fired. I helped pay for it and so did you and this is what we got - a waste of taxpayer resources.


How will giving them less money make them do a better job? Oh, and teachers don't get a "pension." We have a retirement plan that we negotiated that's funded by money taken out of our paychecks--just like you should have had.


Let's be realistic, I live in soap Lake, and the only Roads I've ever seen done are the ones that coincide is those that run for city council and/or the mayor's properties, or roads that were unnecessary. The back neighborhoods haven't been done for 30 plus years. Not even patched, and in 5 years I've had to replace my entire running gear because the roads are so bad. they've never taken care of our roads, and I don't expect them to in the near or distant future. So I'd rather save the money on my tabs. Js


Eastern Wa voters were not thinking on this one. That revenue lost will be made up in some other form of a tax. If not, eastern wa transportation and roads will be neglected while the west side tries to funnel every penny they can pinch to improving their roads and transportation.


Neglected?? Ha! They don't do anything anyway, so what's the difference?


Like when they didn't fix the sewer pipes over the fill? And how they aren't fixing the overpass up by Ritzville? Do you remember what the fill looked like two years ago after the snow thawed? Where do you think the money to repave came from?

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