June 21, 2016: Sound Transit’s Board is to approve the $54bn, 25-year ST3 transit plan Thursday. Voters will be asked to approve $27bn in new taxes in November.
Across King County, the average homeowner is projected to pay about $500 more in taxes and fees annually. This includes new property and sales taxes and a sharp hike in the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax to $80 per $10,000 of vehicle value, as determined by the State. Vehicle values differ dramatically from Kelly Blue Book values when the MVET tax was similar in 1996, prior to repeal for $30 car tabs.
For Sammamish, city officials figure the tax and fee impact will be closer to $1,200 annually, largely based on the higher property values here and the predominance of high-cost cars and trucks owned by this affluent community. This amounts to $30,000 over 25 years.
The Seattle Times today reported that Sound Transit added two light rail stops to the plan in an effort to win votes in November. One is a new stop in South Kirkland, an extension from Bellevue on the proposed Issaquah-Bellevue line. This line would open in 2041. The other stop is in a Seattle neighborhood, where the City Council Member previously opposed ST3 because of the absence of such a stop.
On Sunday, The Times editorial board came out against ST3, at least at this time, and called for more thought and discussion. Sammamish Comment is opposed to ST3; Sammamish will actually lose bus service under the plan.
The Sammamish Review, Issaquah Press and Issaquah/Sammamish Reporter have not taken positions. The first two are owned by The Seattle Times, but clearly have divided loyalties locally. Issaquah gets light rail and Sammamish gets screwed. The two papers rarely editorialize and in The Review’s case, the editorials are generally embarrassingly devoid of courage. The Reporter has a policy of not editorializing at all.
The Sammamish City Council endorsed the principals of more mass transit last month. But Council Members made it clear they didn’t like the plan. Still, at the time the Council didn’t take a formal position on ST3, deciding to wait to see what the final plan was. With this now on track (pun intended) for Thursday’s ST Board approval, it remains to be seen whether the City Council will take a formal position on ST3. Based on prior discussion, there appear to be at least four or five votes opposing ST3.