Election 2010: Edmonds car tab tax


Edmonds voters will be asked in November to approve a $40-per-vehicle increase in licensing fees — for a total of $60 per vehicle — to fund 37 separate city traffic safety, congestion and pedestrian improvements.  Background on this proposal can be found here.

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16 Replies to “Election 2010: Edmonds car tab tax”

  1. As a die hard Democrat and a follower of John Adams, I believe that people should pay taxes. However, even Mr. Adams would not approve this tax. Mr. Adams said that those who have more assets should pay the state more in taxes because they use and require more state services. This is a Regressive Tax; something Mr. Adams would not have approved. In addition, this is not the time to put this regressive tax on the head of those Edmonds’ Citizens already suffering from the current recession – young families, the elderly, and the disabled. At the current taxation rate, we will be able to maintain services at their current level. Vote no!


  2. The TBD rate increase is not only a burdensome regressive tax, the ordinance does not allow for any flexibility in the 37 projects and lasts up to 60 years. If the Mukilteo ferry does come to Edmonds, we will need that flexibility to deal with the influx of traffic.


  3. It’s simply not true that it’s inflexible. Every six years the projects are reviewed. They are only constructed with the approval of the TBD board (city Council). AND, it has happened that board decides to build something NOT on the list. HOWEVER, if a project is not on the list it is more difficult to get matching grants. Most if not all transportation are matched with state and federal funds. Some are completed 100% with grants. One example is the Main STreet Lighting project. Another, OVD was on the construction list for about 5 million. Edmonds contributed $150,000. That transportation link may not be on your regularly traveled route, but kids use it everyday to walk or ride to school. Transportation investments provide safety and accessibility. I’m voting for Prop 1. I think its a good deal for Edmonds


  4. Priya,

    I have carefully considered your persistent argument that the TBD fee is regressive because it is a disproportionate burden on the poor in our community. My only defense to your argument is this: the State Legislature that authorized the TBD did offer relief to the poor.

    We are all shaped by our experiences. You explained that you spent a decade providing legal assistance to poor clients on the east coast. After reading this, your point of view is easier for me to understand.

    I think that Edmonds is a much different demographic. For Edmonds in 2008, the estimated household income was $67,282, and the estimated per capita income was $39,835. We are fortunate that 95.4% of Edmonds residents are above the poverty level.

    However, that means that Edmonds residents with income below the poverty level in 2008 was 4.6%. (statewide is 10.6%) Statistically about 2/3 of these residents are children 18 years and younger.

    I support Proposition 1. Overall it helps brings new revenue to Edmonds for much needed transportation improvements. I don’t think it is perfect.

    I do think it’s flaws can be fixed. The $40 additional fee begins six months afte voter approval. During that time, the City of Edmonds could look into a rebate program that would offer relief to those in our community that would be burdened by the TBD fees.

    I too am a fan of John Adams and Abigail Adams. He wrote in 1774 letter to Abigail, “We live, my dear soul, in an age of trial. What will be the consequence, I know not.”


  5. Proposition 1 by definition is a user fee. It is not a tax;that is not debatable. My question is how do we deal with the regressive nature of the user fee? Can we as a community offer relief for the poor through a rebate?


  6. Call it a fee, or call it tax, I still MUST pay it if I have to work outside of walking distance, just like I MUST pay sales tax if I need to buy clothes for work.

    I am, by federal standards, “poor” — does someone want to offer to pay my vehicle taxes? I’m sorry, I meant “user fees.”


  7. Also, the poverty rate doesn’t include people who are struggling but do not meet the definition of “poverty” — look at what the federal poverty line is — it’s really low — if you live in Edmonds, and have a family, and are making $50,000 per year, you will struggle, but you are not in poverty. Also, those numbers need to be updated — a lot has happened economically since 2008.


  8. Words have meaning.

    Definition of USER FEE from Ask.com
    “Charge usually by a municipality to users of a service. Municipal parks, swimming pools, and toll roads, for example, are paid for by those who benefit rather than by broad-based taxes”

    Definition of TAX from Word IQ.com:
    “A tax is an involuntary fee paid by individuals or businesses to a government”

    Definition of REGRESSIVE TAX from InvestorWords.com:
    “A tax that takes a larger percentage of the income of low-income people than of high-income people.”

    The City Council and TBD were advised and aware of the hardship the increase in the License Tab Tax would cause and did not include anything to reflect that in the proposed ordinance.
    The way to deal with the regressive nature of the tax is not to hope for a “rebate” but to vote against the Proposition, and deal with the badly needed funding for our streets through the general fund ( ie the levy, and better budgeting by the City).


  9. The timing of this is extremely poor. No matter the income level, very few people are bringing home extra money these days.

    One fact people fail to mention; our federal government voted a stimulus package into law that promised to stimulate the economy and promote job growth through focus on “shovel ready” projects. The projects this tax/fee is proposing to undertake appear to primarily fall under the “shovel ready” umbrella.

    Has anyone questioned our city leaders as to how much effort they’ve placed in attempting to qualify for those funds?

    It seems to me, paying off debt associated with the stimulus package and paying increased fee’s/taxes to ultimately receive the same benefit, equals paying twice.

    Maybe I’m wrong and our city leaders have exhausted all attempts to acquire stimulus money, but it sure seems odd they aren’t telling us they’ve done so.


  10. The city has publicized the fact that they not only have aggresively pursued stimulus money, thet have also been successful. Dayton St., from 5th to SR104, was repaved last year, as was a considerable portion of 212th St., with the $1million in stimulus that city staff managed to obtain. Staff is on top of all opportunities for stimulus money and a wide variety of grants available.


  11. Arguing about the regressiveness of the fee is inconsequential. We have painted ourselves into a corner here by establishing a Transportation Benefits District. There is no other way to fund road projects than by regressive tax due to this new “District” construct.
    – The problem, to me anyway, isn’t that the TBD wants to raise funds to do projects – that’s their job. But we aren’t proposing to fund the mandatory maintenance to 100% before we go to the wishlist of improvements. That’s an error of judgment. And, it will, necessarily, lead to a requirement to raise fees again in the near future.
    – Our level of service provided by the transportation infrastructure of Edmonds is not up to standards. Ok. But, I suggest that we should be flexible with our standards, in light of the limited financial resources of this new economic reality.
    So, let’s keep the list – those things could use doing. But, let’s fully fund the maintenance first, and try to work on how our TBD is funded in the meantime.


  12. @Todd. The regressive nature of the the tax is not inconsequential.
    It should form the very basis for any discussion about imposing new taxes. The fact that a regressive tax disproportionally affects those who are to pay it, underpins why this must be a carefully and thoughtfully considered taxing option. (Which it wasn’t!)
    Fundamental fairness to the people of Edmonds (all the folks) should come first.


  13. @DianeT – concur. My point is that our mistake was in implementing a TBD without thinking through how the costs would be spread to the citizens before-hand. Saying that you oppose any fee increase due to its regressive nature is futile, as there are no other options for the TBD to raise monies of consequence.
    *Fundamental fairness*, as you say, is a rallying call without a cause at present. The structure of our government doesn’t support it. What’s needed, is another way for the TBD to raise funds, or, an alternate way to manage our transportation infrastructure without basing it on fees alone.


  14. @Todd: The key phrase in your post #13 is the key reason to vote NO on Prop #1:

    “[W]e aren’t proposing to fund the mandatory maintenance to 100% before we go to the wishlist of improvements. That’s an error of judgment.”

    Defeating Prop 1 impels the city to set priorities the way every business and family does it: food and shelter first, vacations last. If Prop 1 passes it tells decision makers money will keep falling out of the sky to fund whatever undifferentiated wish list they put forward. That’s the wrong message to send in this day and age.

    We want fundamental tax fairness, yes. But however the funds are raised, we don’t want them taken for granted.


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