Council rejects tax idea

Enumclaw City Council members were less than enthusiastic about a King County proposal that would add $20 every time a local resident licenses an automobile.

The source of the potential fee increase is a Transportation Benefit District being touted by King County Executive Kurt Triplett. He outlined his plan for the taxing district in a Nov. 3 letter to all King County mayors.

“Like local governments throughout the state, King County and many of our jurisdictions are experiencing severe budget shortfalls, and a majority of our transportation needs remain unfunded,” Triplett wrote. A way to generate additional money is by formation of the TBD, he explained.

His letter sought to determine the level of support throughout the county and the Enumclaw council gave a qualified “no.”

The local vote was to reject formation of the district and its accompanying $20 license fee. But if the measure passes countywide, Enumclaw wants to be involved, in order to get its fair share of the proceeds. If Enumclaw residents are paying the fee, the council said, the city should get to keep the locally-generated money.

The math behind the measure gets a bit complex. For the Transportation Benefit District to be approved, it would need authorization from 60 percent of the cities in King County, representing 75 percent of the incorporated county population.

If the required level of support doesn’t come from the cities, King County is authorized to implement the taxing district in the unincorporated areas only.

Triplett hopes to forward a recommendation to the King County Council before he leaves office Monday and a final decision would likely be made before the end of the calendar year.

Enumclaw City Administrator Mark Bauer said the TBD concept was authorized by the state Legislature to give local governments a way to raise money for street projects. Money generated by the TBD can be used for nearly anything associated with roads, from acquiring land to making simple surface repairs.

The Enumclaw City Council voted unanimously to reject the proposed formation of the new taxing district.

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