After agreeing to 50/50 project cost share with state to fund the new [temporary] dedicated on-ramp lane to westbound I-90 from Snoqualmie Parkway, the Snoqualmie city council is officially considering an ordinance that would pay for its [approximate] $422,000 portion of the new lane.
On March 9th the council is expected to vote on the ordinance to temporarily increase vehicle license/tab fees in Snoqualmie from $20 per year to $40 per year. The two-year $20 increase would amount to approximately $400,000.
According to a city news release, if the council approves the increase, it will take effect April 1, 2020 and will be repealed on April 1, 2022. The current $20 fee would remain in place at that time.
The car tab increase was discussed by the council as a possible funding measure prior to directing the mayor to enter into a 50/50 project cost share with the state, which installed the new on-ramp lane last fall.
There could be one kink in the car tab increase, though: I-976 which Washington voters passed in November and limits car tab fees. According to the city, though, 54% Snoqualmie voters rejected the initiative.
Initiative 976 has not been implemented yet and is currently on hold, pending the outcome of some court challenges. According to Mayor Larson, if the courts uphold I-976, the city may have to refund the funds or may be able to keep funds collected to date of the court decision. If the courts do not up hold I-976, the city would keep collected the new fees.
Per the news release, “The city currently collects a $20 vehicle license fee with the proceeds held in reserve for critical road infrastructure projects, such as a future repaving of Snoqualmie Parkway, which will cost several million dollars. The fee also pays for current infrastructure projects such as road repairs and replacement as needed for safety and to avoid more expensive infrastructure replacements in the future. The potential $40 licensing fee would have a $20 set aside for reserves and current infrastructure projects, with the other $20 allocated to the on-ramp project cost.”
For those wishing to comment on the potential car licensing fee increase, there will be a public hearing on the topic at the March 9th city council meeting at 7PM – before council members vote on the ordinance.
The on-ramp project price tag was approximately $1.2 million, divided by a 50/50 match between the City of Snoqualmie and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Snoqualmie’s portion was offset by contributions from the Snoqualmie Tribe and the cities of Covington and Maple Valley.