Bill in Legislature would give cities the chance to opt out of ST3’s high car tab tax

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TACOMA — With car tab renewal fees doubling or even tripling for many drivers to pay for Sound Transit 3, some residents in the area are now hoping for a redo. And Republican state Sen. Dino Rossi is one of them.

“For example, I live in Sammamish,” Rossi said. “Sammamish gets the bill — I might get a park-and-ride by the time I go into a nursing home. Besides that, I get nothing.”

ST3 will expand mass transit, including more than 60 miles of light rail. One of its routes would connect Everett to Tacoma, but Rossi says other cities won’t see the benefits.

“As you know, Pierce County voted heavily against Sound Transit; places like University Place and others probably don’t get anything,” Rossi said.

Because enough voters in King and Snohomish counties said yes to ST3, Pierce County voters got looped into paying higher car tabs.

Rossi says that’s not fair and cities should have the option to opt out.

But Sound Transit says that option would jeopardize current and future projects and raise legal questions.

“There would be a lot of legal and practical questions that would come, if one of 52 cities in the Sound Transit district could decide to opt out,” Sound Transit spokesperson Geoff Patrick said.

No word yet on how Tacoma city leaders feel about opting out, but the mayor of Newcastle says he would entertain the idea and survey his residents.

So if cities start opting out ,what does that mean for drivers in cities that don’t?

“It wouldn’t change the taxes for the other cities, but what it would do is to reduce the amount of money invested in transit,” Patrick said.

That’s the last thing some light rail riders want to hear.

“Nobody ever wants to pay for it, but in the end it does benefit a lot of people who have to take light rail,” light rail rider Georgia Felts said.

Rossi’s bill will have to pass committee before it can get to the Senate floor.