O’Ban proposes three Sound Transit accountability bills

Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, has introduced three bills aimed at Sound Transit and car tab fees. These bills would establish a vehicle valuation based on the Kelley Blue Book or National Auto Dealers Association values and cut the tax by 55 percent, require Sound Transit board members to be directly elected by taxpayers and allow counties to opt out of Sound Transit 3 taxes.

SB 6303 looks to reduce the cost of car tabs based on the Kelley Blue Book or National Auto Dealers Association value instead of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price mandated by ST3. O’Ban proposed this legislation as a way to counter the sticker shock many Western Washington residents are experiencing as they open their car tab renewal notices. The one-time famed “$30 car tab fee” has jumped in some cases to become $300, $500 and even more thanks to Sound Transit.

“At a time in Olympia when Democrats are in control, they are putting on hold car tab tax relief. I am offering a bill that would significantly reduce car tab fees, offering taxpayers relief,” said O’Ban. “There is a House bill that would do nothing to cut the tax and instead would allow you to make payments if your tabs are above $200. Unbelievably, you’d have to pay a service fee, so you’d actually pay even more. That isn’t tax relief.”

SB 6301 would divide the Sound Transit area into 11 districts equal in population, drawn so that no one county has a majority on the Sound Transit board. Representatives would be directly elected in each district. Currently, the county executives in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties appoint the board members, and King County Executive Dow Constantine appoints a majority of the seats on the board.

“Sound Transit is out of control,” said O’Ban. “Taxpayers are waking up to just how big the Sound Transit 3 price tag really is and they want accountability.”

SB 6164 would allow county legislative bodies to nullify the Sound Transit taxes within their boundaries if approved by voters. The legislation also would allow voters to file a petition to nullify the regional transit authority taxes within a county. Voters would need to collect signatures of 8 percent of the voters registered and voting in the city or county in the last gubernatorial election. Pierce County, where O’Ban’s district is located, voted decisively against the $54 billion Sound Transit bond plan that passed in 2016.

“Sound Transit is picking the pockets of a majority of Pierce County residents who rejected the big tax hike,” O’Ban added. “Taxpayers should have the opportunity to withdraw from ST3 and save the billions it will take from hard-working residents.”