Opinion

Is Kitsap eyeing an increase to its car tab fees?

Sound Off is a public forum. Articles are selected from letters to the editor or may be written specifically for this feature. Today, Mukilteo resident Tim Eyman, author of numerous tax-cutting initiatives, suspects Kitsap County might be considering legislation that raises the cost of car tabs from the current $30.

According to information obtained from the the Washington State Department of Transportation, Kitsap County is plotting to take away your $30 tabs and your right to vote.

We’ve been researching the level of support our statewide initiatives have enjoyed among the voters of Kitsap County. It turns out the voters there are extremely supportive of the policies and principles contained in our taxpayer-protection initiatives.

In 1999, Initiative 695, which set car tabs at $30 per year and required voter approval for any tax and fee increase passed statewide by 56 percent to 44 percent; voters in Kitsap County gave it a 54.3 percent yes vote.

Following the court’s rejection, Gov. Gary Locke promised, “$30 license tabs are here to stay,”?and one week later the Legislature also promised to keep tabs at $30, passing the measure by a 83-13 vote in the House and 39-9 in the Senate.

In 2000, Initiative 722, which limited property tax levy increases to 2 percent per year and required voter approval for higher increases, passed statewide 55 percent to 45 percent; Kitsap County voters approved it with a 55.6 percent yes vote.

In 2001, Initiative 747, which limited property tax levy increases to 1 percent per year and required voter approval for higher increases passed statewide 58 percent to 42 percent, but voters in Kitsap County gave it a 57 percent yes vote.

In 2002, Initiative 776, called “The Right to Vote on Higher Vehicle Taxes Initiative,” which repealed various vehicle charges exceeding $30 per

year and said any increase in vehicle charges needed a public vote, passed statewide 52 percent to 48 percent; voters in Kitsap County gave it a 49 percent yes vote.

In 2003, Kitsap County voters overwhelmingly rejected an increase in car tab fees and sales taxes in Proposition 1, the passenger-only ferry investment plan. It went down in flames with a 62 percent no vote.

In 2005, Initiative 900, which required performance audits of state and local governments to inspire them to spend tax dollars more cost-effectively rather than raising taxes, passed statewide 56 percent to 44 percent, but Kitsap county voters passed it with a 55 percent yes vote.

In 2007, Kitsap County voters again overwhelmingly rejected a sales tax increase in a sequel to the passenger-only ferry investment plan. It received a 54 percent no vote.

In 2007, Initiative 960 which makes it tougher to raise taxes and fees, passed statewide 51 percent to 49 percent (despite opponents spending $1.7 million attacking it and our side spending $0 promoting it), but Kitsap County voters passed it with a 51 percent yes vote.

In 2007, Proposition 1 was put on the ballot in the Puget Sound and it would have jacked up car tab fees and sales taxes. It was crushed 44 percent yes, 56 percent no.

In all of those votes by the people, where exactly does anyone get the impression that voters in Kitsap County want higher taxes, especially increased car tab fees?

Kitsap County voters consistently and viscerally oppose unilateral tax and fee increases imposed by politicians without a vote of the people.

In 2005, the Legislature and Gov. Christine Gregoire passed a bill into law (Senate Bill 5177) that required voter approval for any increase in vehicle charges by local governments.

Not a single local government even tried to put an increase on the ballot because they knew the voters viscerally oppose higher car tab fees.

So in 2007, the Legislature and Gregoire passed a bill into law (House Bill 1858) that took away the people’s right to vote, allowing county councils and city councils to unilaterally jack up vehicle tabs without a vote of the people.

Not a single local government has unilaterally imposed them without a vote of the people because they know the voters oppose higher car tab fees.

The Yakima County Council put a higher-vehicle-tabs advisory vote on the ballot this past November and voters crushed it 81 percent to 19 percent.

The vote totals in Kitsap County clearly illustrate that citizens in your area appreciate the policies our initiatives offered. They consistently approved our initiatives by huge margins.

The voters in Kitsap County have a right to know when their elected leaders plan to take away their $30 tabs. They deserve to know if someone is trying to take away their right to vote.

And I’m going to do my dead level best to make sure the voters of Kitsap County know about any potential tax increase every step of the way.

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