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$20 car tab hearing draws supporters; council postpones vote

The King County Council postponed a decision on a two-year, $20 car tab fee to maintain Metro bus service until August 15th in an attempt to pass the measure without it having to go before voters.

Advocates for social justice, economic development and environmental protection packed council chambers for the hearing. Nearly all testified in favor of the council enacting the fee.

Here are four voices from last night:

  • Kristin: “My finance and I chose our neighborhood and our house based on access to transit. Given the current economy and the declining housing values, do you really think that it’s good to leave potential homebuyers in limbo till November?”
  • Henry: “If I owned a car, I’d be happy to pay a $20 fee.  But I gave up my car because I believe I should be able to rely on public transportation.”
  • George: “Employers invest on this, employees depend on this, if this is eroded, so will the support for the employee base and so will the trust for the employees.”
  • Paul: “This ordinance is not going to solve your problem, it’s only going to postpone it.  The 17% reduction should be put in effect immediately!”

Opponents say an additional car tab fee would create hardships for people who have to drive – and that metro needs to become more efficient. 
After the hearing, budget Chair Julia Patterson said the council was still divided – but that additional time that would give them the chance to possibly come together.                              

“And this is an extremely important issue to the people of King County," Patterson said. "We have I believe 2 weeks where we could potentially work together, continue to work together, to see if we can come together on this issue.”

A divided vote would have sent the measure to the November ballot, for voters to decide. The deadline for that is August 16th, meaning council members will have only one day to decide what to do when they come back together for the vote.


Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to