Seattle councilmembers began the processing of approving amendments to the city’s 2021 budget Wednesday, voting on several proposals with wide-ranging implications.
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Among the more controversial measures include one that would raise a city-level car tab fee from $20 to $40. Initially, the hope had been to earmark the funds from that increased fee to address underfunded bridge maintenance.
A recent report published by the city auditor estimates that Seattle should be spending between $34 million and $102 million annually to meet engineering standards for bridge maintenance. Currently, the city spends roughly $10 million to that effect. By raising a vehicle licensing fee from $20 to $40, councilmembers estimate the city could raise an additional $3.6 million.
Despite supporting the fee itself, Council President Lorena Gonzalez brought up concerns Wednesday over the lack of a stakeholder process in determining how those funds should be spent. Ultimately, the council agreed to include the car tab fee increase in its 2021 budget, but set aside the issue of how to spend it for future discussion.
Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant voiced her own disapproval for the measure, labeling it “one of the most deeply regressive taxes” the city could pass for low-income and working class residents. Sawant instead proposed the city raise that money by increasing rates for the JumpStart big business tax passed earlier in 2020. That proposal was voted down 8-1.
All of Seattle’s Democratic City Councilmembers shamefully just voted to increase car tab fees – one