2050club (Reddit)
2050club (Reddit)

In recent testimony before the Sound Transit board (and in its ST3 comment letter), the agency’s Expert Review Panel (ERP) asked the agency to take a finer look at expected household costs for Sound Transit 3 (ST3), this November’s major transit expansion measure. The published estimates of $203 annually per adult included a calculation of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) based on average vehicle values, and also had based its calculations on averages for the entire 3-county area. Using mean values isn’t best practice, as disproportionately high or low values can distort its representative value.

Last week Sound Transit released new figures based on median vehicle values, and also revised estimates for all 3 tax sources for those within the Sound Transit district, as opposed to the previous estimate based on the entirety of the 3-county area.

Coincidentally, it turned out that revising the calculations for property tax and sales tax didn’t change the output much, with the median home remaining at $360k, and the additional sales tax tab remaining at roughly $80 per person per year. But the new MVET figures changed the calculation drastically, reducing the overall estimated tax burden by 17%, from $203 annually to $169 for a typical adult. Basically, Sound Transit found that a few of us own really expensive cars, dragging the mean value up to $10,000, whereas the median value is just $5,333:

The 1 percent of vehicles in the district with values over $52,000 and 10 percent with values over $27,000 are dramatically higher than the median value of $5,333.

An adult owning the median value motor vehicle would pay an additional $43 per year in MVET if ST3 were passed. The updated calculation reflects an annual median value $5,333 of vehicles in the Sound Transit District. MVET taxes are determined by a state of Washington depreciation schedule for a specific vehicle’s model and production year. The previous calculation relied on a less representative average vehicle value of $10,135 for the more expansive tri-county area, for a significantly higher annual cost of $78 per adult.

Full Sound Transit News Release below the jump…

Sound Transit provides Expert Review Panel with updated calculation of costs for additional car tab, sales and property taxes

Sound Transit today released an updated and more precise calculation of the taxes residents would pay if the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure is approved in November.

In its June 20, 2016 letter, the ST3 Expert Review Panel (ERP) appointed by the state of Washington suggested that the typical cost per household be updated to reflect the most current data. The more accurate new calculation indicates ST3 would cost the typical adult in the Sound Transit District an additional $169 annually, $34 or 17 percent less than the $203 previously estimated.

Under the updated and more precise methodology addressed in the attached memo, the calculations for all three of the new taxes that regional voters will consider now use median values, or the amounts at which 50 percent of people would pay more and 50 percent would pay less. Previously, the calculation for the motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) used average vehicle values based on the information that was readily available in early 2015. Using a median value cancels the disproportionate impact of the relatively small number of people that own very expensive vehicles. For example, the 1 percent of vehicles in the district with values over $52,000 and 10 percent with values over $27,000 are dramatically higher than the median value of $5,333.

For both the MVET and property taxes, the new calculation is now a reflection of the typical adult who lives within the precise boundaries of the Sound Transit District as opposed to the three-county area.

The ST3 Plan would build 62 additional miles of light rail and 37 new stations to form a 116-mile regional system, as well as bus rapid transit, commuter rail and other regional transit investments to get people out of traffic as the region’s population keeps growing. The plan’s $53.8 billion in investments would be enabled by new taxes including: (1) a sales tax of 0.5 percent ($.50 on a $100 purchase); (2) a MVET of 0.8 percent ($80 annually per $10,000 of vehicle value); and (3) a property tax of 25 cents for each $1,000 of assessed valuation ($100 annually for a $400,000 home). Sound Transit will develop an online calculator through which residents can input information to calculate individualized annual cost estimates.

Here’s how much a typical adult would pay if ST3 is approved:

  • MVET: An adult owning the median value motor vehicle would pay an additional $43 per year in MVET if ST3 were passed. The updated calculation reflects an annual median value $5,333 of vehicles in the Sound Transit District. MVET taxes are determined by a state of Washington depreciation schedule for a specific vehicle’s model and production year. The previous calculation relied on a less representative average vehicle value of $10,135 for the more expansive tri-county area, for a significantly higher annual cost of $78 per adult.
  • Property tax: An adult with the median home value would pay an additional $47 per year in property tax if ST3 were passed. The updated calculation is based on a median $360,658 assessed value for the Sound Transit District, and 1.93 adults per household. This calculation uses actual median assessed home values for 2015 which are inflated by 9.6 percent to estimate what people would pay in 2017 following the passage of ST3.This more precise data, based on what taxpayers actually pay, was not available at the time of the original calculation.  Instead, the earlier calculation used less precise Zillow home values in the entire Snohomish, King and Pierce county areas to generate an estimate of additional property tax per adult that was coincidentally also $47 per year for an assumed median market value of $360,776.
  • Sales tax: An adult at the median income level would pay an additional $79 per year in sales and use taxes if ST3 were passed. This is based on an updated median household income level of $73,359 according to 2015 data from the Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM) for Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, and 1.93 adults per household. The OFM-estimated amount that a household of that income level pays in sales taxes was then adjusted to an estimate for 2017 by adding two years of inflation at approximately 2.25 percent annually.The previous calculation was based on the older OFM 2013 median income level of $67,032, which was inflated to a $78 estimated additional cost for 2017 by adding four years of inflation. The fact there was not much change in the estimated sales tax cost under the updated calculation reflects that the earlier inflation assumptions were fairly accurate.

The ST3 Plan would construct light rail further north to Everett, further south to Federal Way and Tacoma, and further east to downtown Redmond. Extensions would connect West Seattle and Ballard to the system, in addition to a new line in East King County linking South Kirkland, Bellevue and Issaquah.

ST3 would also establish bus rapid transit service on I-405 from Lynnwood to Burien and on SR 522, with faster buses running every 10 minutes during peak commute hours. The plan would expand the capacity of fast-growing Sounder south commuter rail service linking Seattle, Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, Sumner, Puyallup, Tacoma and Lakewood, with extension of the line to reach Joint Base Lewis-McChord and DuPont. Parking and other investments would expand access about both south line and north line Sounder stations. The Tacoma Link light rail line would extend from Hilltop to Tacoma Community College.

Among a number of other projects in the plan, early investments would include speeding up existing bus routes by enabling them to run on the shoulders of freeways where possible. Details of the plan are available at soundtransit3.org, including an interactive map.

107 Replies to “Expensive Cars Help Sound Transit Revise ST3’s Household Cost Estimates”

  1. They still use the same disingenuous method of calculating vehicle “value” that they did back when voters passed initiative 695 unfortunately. It seems as though some lessons can’t be learned by government. They start with MSRP for the new auto, a number which absolutely no one ever pays. Then they bump it down in small percentage increments from there every year. The result always ends up being that someone examining their tax bill looks at their 10 year old Honda Civic and the government has a wildly overestimated value for the car. Its dishonest, and was a big reason for the car tab revolt 16 years ago. Don’t underestimate this becoming an issue again.

    Base it on market value, and you have an honest approach. Base it on a fictitious value and you have a dishonest approach that will see backlash once the bill becomes due. This happened to some degree during the Monorail days.

    1. Pretty much all auto values are a fictitious value. You buy a car as new, turn around and sell it without driving it anywhere, and it has lost resale value just because someone else has a name on the title.

      I just entered the information into the system for a 10 year old Volvo, and the estimated excise tax comes up as $34, which hardly seems unreasonable.

      1. Well, I just had to pay $150 to get the tabs for a 22 year old Toyota.
        I don’t know about the excise portion, it’s the total amount of the check that’s important.
        Add in the $15 emissions test fee while you are at it.

      2. It’s also what you get for what you pay. Restaurants have to pay a expensive business membership fee to shop at Costco with the benefits they need, but they find the savings are worth it.

    2. Hate to wake up being right about this one, Bando, but thanks for more persuasive example than mine. Especially critical ST3 campaign remembers this one immediately and acts on before nightfall.

      A voter born in 1998, the year before I- 695 passed- will vote for the first time this election. With my own every STB comment, I get reminded that most of DSTT’s existence was buses with steam whistles and folk songs with “Old” in front of every route and run.

      But another caution much more serious. Even more than black-number balance sheet voters should see, more than any other program in recent memory, ST3’s long time frame makes it mandatory to stage the work so people will start getting some service they can use ASAP.

      Decades-needed transit lane to make I-5 express service two way shouldn’t take very large percentage of 25 years. Or region-full of reserved lanes and pre-empted signals. Should answer justified demands about what’s going to happen with ST Express.

      Memory serves, Sound Transit owes its existence to 1996 bus-inclusive vote, after ’95 vote with less bus emphasis lost. So quick, somebody prove Bando is more wrong than me.

      BTW, about shoulders for transit lanes, passing-time bombshell couple month ago: Public comment of mine to State House committee seconded by State Patrol,or other way around. We both agree legislators should get a windshield view seat on a ride down a freeway shoulder before the vote. Talk about each side selling out to its old enemies.


      1. Mark, could you please limit yourself to one topic per post and forego the poetry? You have a lot of excellent insights, but it is an abusive bore to extract them from the rambling word-salad.

        You’ve been getting better lately, but this one represents some serious back-sliding.

        Thank you.

    3. We’re talking about $46/year, about the cost of just one tank of gas. This is hardly something to get riled up about.

      1. Paying $46 for more transit is not being duped, no matter what you think how good ST3’s proposals are.

    4. The worst part of the “excise tax” is that its a property tax and you cannot have the value reappraised (I have tried and no one seems to be responsible for it). Its a fixed formula based off the MSRP which we all know to be a false value anyway.

  2. Woke up about fifteen minutes ago, so probably missing some figures. Know how much more taxes will cost- but what is total bill for the average person? Also suspicious about how “average” estimates strike individual voters.

    But my guess is that if transit can’t prove to people that they spend more per month on Frito’s at the convenience stores where they buy their gas- or better comparison if anybody knows one- that what ST3 will cost them, it doesn’t deserve to pass.

    Like the last Monorail vote- whose cost and special plates many voters haven’t forgotten, despite more recent transit wins. The kind of campaign professionals our opponents can afford study nights how to find and tear open ole wounds.

    Let alone what transit will save them in parking fees and maintenance, let alone gas. And not to mention most valuable thing of all, saved or lost time. Because, over all, it seems to me that communication with the tax-paying public is often on the level of our system’s information to its own passengers.

    Drinking my coffee now. When I get done, let me wake up to proof I’m wrong.

    Mark Dublin

    1. What sort of coffee? $4 Starbucks once per workday is $1,000/year (assuming 2 weeks vacation), yet many Seattleites seem to find that price quite palatable.

  3. So 17% less income on $54 bn is something like $9 bn.
    I think a streetcar from the Junction to Ballard going down 1st Ave should just about cover that.

    1. No, it’s the same total cost, just a different representation of what a “typical” adult would pay. It’s actually showing that the MVET will be a progressive tax disproportionately born by those owning expensive cars.

      1. You wrote in paragraph 3 “…reducing the overall estimated tax burden by 17%…”. So the fuzzy math isn’t working for me. Less income per household, is….uhm… less income, NO?
        Who makes up the difference? Feds? More debt? WSDOT?

      2. The key phrase in that sentence is ” for a typical adult”. A typical adult pays less, but some adults (with more expensive cars) pay more.

      3. So another way of looking at this would be to take the $54 bn, divided by 2 mn households, and divide that by 25 years to get the increase in annual tax burden of $1,080 each (all taxes, all sources)
        These confusing terms and narrow views of what people will pay, versus what they can expect is what finally turned public support away from the monorail.

      4. The article title starts out with ‘Household Cost Estimate’ and again in the stories lead sentence.
        We somehow end up talking about costs for typical adult as the story progresses, which led to my initial reaction. So you’re right, I am confused about how $54 bn gets parsed out to 2 mn households over the 25 year time frame it takes to build it – less the overhanging 10 bn in debt left to pay after 2041 on the new expansion.

    2. Mic, thanks for at least connecting what voters are buying with what they’ll get back. Long-shot, but if Pike Place Market Association and the Historic Preservation people cooperate, 2040 could see average-length Chicago arterial re-created. About same distance.

      Drug stores with soda fountains serving “Malts”, groceries with awnings, car-lots full of 1938 Oldsmobiles, coffee shops with classic three-week-on-the-stove flavor notes, ice cream with genuine original patriotic WWII-ration condensed milk. And generously greasy donuts average factory guy could work off in one shift and not get fat.

      However, historic accuracy requires that streetcars not only be painted exact same shade of red as stock-yard cattle blood, but also have wood slats instead of patterned rubber for aisle floors. And most important, authentic permanent smell of wet wool coats. Could throw in one PCC streetcar that Chicagoans named The Green Hornet. Same little boys loved the radio super-hero too.

      By 2040, US should have had enough streetcars long enough to create such an enormous tourist market of retired enthusiasts that everybody’s plates should get paid off with interest. By then, also, global warming will have put Waterfront transit into Venetian gondolas. Except Singing Motormen with Italian rather than Swedish accents.

      As usual, good thinking!


  4. $5333 for median car value seems rather low at first glance regardless of how it is calculated. I guess there are a lot more old cars out there.

    Just for reference, a 10yo Honda Accord with 100k miles in “very good” condition has a blue book value of $5-6k depending on the features. If the DOL value is actually higher then the median car is inferior to that.

    1. The average age of cars currently on the road in the U.S. is 11.5 years as of 2015, up from 8.4 in 1995.

  5. “King and Pierce county areas to generate an estimate of additional property tax per adult that was coincidentally also $47 per year for an assumed median market value of $360,776.”

    Sure that’s the median value not the mean but still, it’s clear that the number gets significantly lower due to all of the lower values in Pierce. You’re going to struggle to find a property that isn’t a condo for that median value in King.

    With that said, it’s not like the tax burden is high. Even at $100 extra a year, that’s nothing compared to the $100+ being added each year just from the assessments that everyone is seeing.

    1. It’s the assessed value, not the sale price. Assessed value for my home is probably only 60% of what I could sell it for in this market. I’m not sure slicing by county would fix this problem. Edmonds/Woodway has different home values than Lynnwood. Ruston has different home values than Puyallup.

      1. Yeah – and that’s ridiculous right there. Mine is about 100% of what I could sell for.

      2. Assessed value is calculated differently depending on the area and person doing it, so it’s no surprise it can vary a lot.

    2. Actually, if you go south King County you can find a new 4-bedroom 2-story on an 8,000 square foot lot for that price. (But you’ll more than pay the difference in time and mileage if you try to drive to Seattle for work.)

  6. S 10% of the population have cars valued over $27k, but I bet you that that 10% all votes.

    I’m thinking that property owners and car owners are going to be more likely to vote. Just think about those retired old people sitting on their single family homes with fixed income that are going to be the hardest to win over on a new tax that eats away at their fixed income while seeing a result they don’t care about because they’ll be dead or so old they aren’t looking for mobility by the time these projects complete. I really hope that part of the population is a small minority, but these days with baby boomers being this demographic, they scare me the most since they have a lot of voice on ST3 and it doesn’t benefit them in the slightest to vote yes on it.

    1. I am one of those seniors on a fixed on income, and I am voting NO on ST3. We in Seattle are already paying for Move Seattle, so let those in the other areas of the three counties, setup, and vote for the own “Move” taxing initiative.

      Oh, BTW, don’t tell me to about the senior options, they are totally inept. For example, the $40,000 option only allows a senior to deduct medical copays and nothing else. In other words, it’s $40,000 is the GROSS income! The senior lien option, will not work since it will not allow a loan on your property in the future.

      One question, what is the increase in sales tax, since we are already paying 9.6% in Seattle?

      1. Reg, I hope you realize that ST3 will buy a lot of transit improvements in Seattle that will not be paid for with Move Seattle funds. Of particular interest to you: funds for Madison BRT. If ST3 fails those funds won’t be available.

      2. David,

        Move Seattle was our part of the BRT and the feds were supposed to pay for the rest. Since when does ST3 affect eh BRT. By that will not get me to vote for ST3, especially with car tab, property tax and sales tax increased!

      3. Move Seattle doesn’t pay for all of it, even with the Feds. Plus, it’s vulnerable to the city diverting funds to something else, while it’s impossible for Sound Transit to do that.

      4. You’re saying the SDOT is diverting the money for the Madison BRT, is that Right? Tha is no reason to vote for ST3.

        Once again, I am voting flat out NO ON ST3, and I won’t be the only one doing it! How can I trust ST when you say I can’t trust SDOT?

      5. I said it’s possible for the city to divert the money, not that they have (although they have in the past). And having money that can’t be diverted for something else means a much better chance of a good outcome for that project. Voting for ST3 means that everyone has that guarantee of dedicated money that can’t be diverted. Plus, it will fully fund BRT, while Move Seattle doesn’t.

        Because ST has proven that trust in the past by passing state and federal audits with flying colors, and legally they can not divert the money without landing in hot water.

    2. I’m also concerned that the presidential election situation might hurt ST3’s chances.

      Trump is doing better in WA than expected without really any campaign groundwork. If he actually starts campaigning here the race could tighten up. Although his main base of support will be outside the ST area, the edges are probably majority Trump. I’d assume most Trump voters are against ST3 (despite Trump’s vaguely pro-infrastructure mindset).

      In addition, Seattle proper strongly favored Sanders over Clinton. Without Sanders on the ballot, turnout among his most fervent supporters may suffer if they are so disillusioned as to give up voting entirely (seems to be somewhat prevalent online, at least). They would probably be the most reliable ST3 voters, but perhaps the least likely to actually vote. ST3 will need huge margins in Seattle to offset weaker support elsewhere.

      1. In addition, Seattle proper strongly favored Sanders over Clinton.

        Only in the caucus. In the primary, Hillary clobbered Sanders.

      2. I for one would have voted for Sanders in the primary, but I knew that only the caucuses counted & the primary was substantially meaningless. Had I realized the symbolic value, I would have made more effort.

  7. This impact appears to be in 2016 or 2017 dollars only. The cost per household would appear to rise as assessments increase.

    1. Yes, you are so right, I had to come up with 25.2% more money to pay my property tax this year, I am fed up with any new property taxes. See comment above!

      1. Yes. Recent tax increases are staggeringly high and owners know it.

        I am often amazed that renters complain about increases but not understand that their owner gets hit with double digit property tax increases almost every year too. For a new one bedroom on Capitol Hill, the increases probably come out to $100 a month this year alone. ST3 will add more to that.

      2. Given that the property tax rate went up 10%, after going down 10% the previous year, congratulations on a 25% increase in the value of your home over the last two years! That’s an incredible return on investment!

      3. Tim,

        Let explain something to you; a house is a not a liquid asset like a stock where were a can sell some stock to realize a profit and still keep the rest. Yes, my property value has gone up, but that does not mean that I have the assets as a senior to pay for 25.2% increases in property taxes.

        BTW, my property tax has gone up every year and are now closing on $7,000 and my retirement income has not gone up! I know you may think that I’m living off of the dole by getting Social Security and Medicare, but I paid for them while I worked!

      4. What you need is a cap on assessed value increases unless the property gets sold. As it is now you will still get priced out of your home in a few years due to the substantial increase in property values every year.

        Or, you could make do with a Seattle equivalent of the Make Portland Affordable Again project going on down here, aka Make Portland Shitty Again so everyone wants to move away.

      5. I understand that a home is not a liquid investment. I do not think you’re on the dole for receiving SS & Med benefits – you paid for those in good faith & earned them. It sucks that you can no longer afford to live in the home that you’ve invested so much time and emotion into.

        But the property tax levy rate is not your problem – the increase in assessed value is what has priced you out.

        Sell the house, realize the gains in your investment, and buy or rent a smaller place that you can afford. Or get a roommate – that’s what I do, and my house is appraised at less than half of yours.

        Writ large, keeping one person in a place that could fit a family of four contributes directly to the housing affordability problem we’re all currently facing in this city.

      6. Tim,

        You and no one else has the right to tell me to move so four people can live in my house. Your response does not deserve a reply! This is still America, not the Soviet Union or the PRC!

      7. I’m not telling you to move; the housing market is telling you to move. Or to get a roommate, or to find another source of income. You have many options.

        Complaining on the internet about the straw of a small levy rate increase is the option you appear to have chosen. It’s not going to solve your problem; it’s barely applicable.

      8. This levy increase is NOT small, and I predict it will fail! Maybe you who want ST3 be paying for it!

      9. Based on your statement of $7k per year current property tax, adding $0.25 tax per $1000 assessed value means you’ll pay ~$175 more per year; less than $15 per month.

      10. Just move- it’s not the government that’s raising prices, it’s the market doing so. Plus, by moving, you can help four people find good housing. ;)

      11. I will consider moving if you’re willing to pay me $2,000,000 for my hours! So where do you live and why should I pay so you can ride ST when I’m dead?

      12. Why should I pay so you can ride ST when I’m dead?

        Because your parents gave you the Interstates, your grandparents the railways, and the native settlers the land its all built on. If everyone only supported what they personally would use, we’d start over in the Stone Age every generation. There are good and bad reasons to oppose ST3 or any other measure, but “I got mine” strikes me as among the most objectionable.

    2. Because our parents paid for our education and infrastructure, and we have to do the same for our kids. Plus, I don’t even know if I will be living in the Puget Sound area when ST3 is complete, but I’m happy to pay for it. If you have financial troubles, ask the elder services agencies for help instead of trying to suck it up. Without ST3, housing prices will continue to rise rapidly anyway, and you will be priced out anyway in a few years. Ask for help.

  8. I hope the individual calculator will allow renters to enter rent instead of property value.

    It looks like my landlord will only need to raise my rent $4 a month to cover my share of the property tax increase. I’m betting my rent will go up much more than that (and it should, for inflation and ongoing maintenance, for which I gladly support rent increases). But I’m glad to know ST3 isn’t the reason.

    The 0.5% increase in sales tax will probably cost me much less than the estimated $80 per year, but my low-impact lifestyle is atypical.

  9. I can’t even find where to download the depreciation schedule with MSRP by vehicle so that I can confirm what my tax obligation will be. DOL provides a current estimator, but nowhere can I find a table or calculator to confirm the value assumption being used.

    To be clear, I will vote for ST3, but I know voters don’t like surprises, and when people do the reverse calculation to find out that their vehicle is valued at $7000 more than Kelly Blue Book, people get mad.

    Please let me and everyone else calculate what their own tax obligation will be, not just the “median.”

  10. I hate to wake up at the crack of noon and see that I’m right once again. ST must ensure that congestion and gridlock continues and expands in order to ensure its future revenue stream.

    “Heh heh heh. Ah heh heh. heh heh heh heh. He said crack.” Beavis and Butthead.

    1. Err, then ST doesn’t need to do anything at all, because congestion is going to increase no matter what we do. Transit gives people a way around it.

  11. Once again ST3 lies through its teeth trying to deceive the voters over this boondoggle expansion plan.

    It’s clear that this will disproportionately impact the citizens of the region who live in the suburbs and who benefit the least (if at all) from the expansion. These are the citizens who have more expensive vehicles and more vehicles, typically out of necessity because they don’t have decent transit.

    This benefits residents of Seattle. Everyone else – beware. Just like BREXIT, the supporters are fudging the numbers and the voters are being hoodwinked.

    I expect my personal exposure to be at least $500, probably more, in vehicle property taxes alone. And don’t forget this applies to everything – motorcycles, collectible cars, cars that your kids may be driving to school in. Again – completely disproportionate impact.

    Those that will benefit from ST3 pay less. Those that won’t pay more. VOTE NO!

    1. You are so right, VOTE NO ON ST3. Those who want it so badly should pay as they use ST!

      BTW, how much will our sales tax go up, .5??????

      1. How exactly will people “pay as they use ST” if people like you prevent those new transit options from being built in the first place?

      2. David,

        Have the people who want to have ST expanded should pay for it with an increase in fares. We pay for the new 520 bridge every time we use it. Users of the new I90 tunnel will also pay tolls just like the users of 520 do now. In effect, it could be called a surcharge!

      3. What is the “new I-90 tunnel?” IF you think 520 tolls are covering the full cost of 520 you’re crazy. Tolls only cover a fraction, just like fares only cover a fraction of the cost of providing transit.

      4. The I90 tunnel is the viaduct replacement. If tolls don’t cover the cost, then let them vote on their own “Move Seatle” type initiative in areas outside of Seattle.

      5. Reg, ST3 funds projects in Seattle that directly benefit Seattle taxpayers. It also funds projects outside of Seattle using funds from outside of Seattle. It is exactly what you say you want in terms of outcomes, using the same funding sources that we use to pay for other things that are useful to society as a whole (e.g. roads, bridges, tunnels). Just because you have everything you want doesn’t make it right to force everyone else to pay a use tax.

        If you want to follow your argument consistently you should probably start paying the full cost of each of your trips on Metro. I think the going rate is somewhere around $150/hour, though you can try to split that with anyone else who happens to be on the bus when you board.

      6. It’s impossible for tolls and fares to pay the entire capital cost of transportation systems. Tolled highways still get subsidies, and even Vancouver’s transit system only manages to cover operating costs, not capital costs (AKA mist of the cost), with fares.

      7. They do, via property tax and the car tax, plus the sales tax. Taxing them more would be nice, but the state legislature won’t let ST do that. Plus, people use transit and benefit from it as much as businesses do.

    2. And the entitled, layabout “Where’s my free stuff?” crowd will vote for it, because they don’t have cars, and they don’t pay property taxes.

      “Sam, I am highly offended by your description of ST3 voters!”


    3. What is .08% of the value of a collectible car? Pretty low. If you’re a poor sap paying to insure a menagerie of motorcycles and other vehicles that you barely use, ST3 is the least of your worries. By the way, having vehicles out of “necessity” and all your “collectibles” do not come together in a persuasive argument.

      1. It’s not 0.08%, it’s 0.8%. A collectible car may easily be assessed at 200,000. The tax would be $1,600.

    4. “These are the citizens who have more expensive vehicles and more vehicles, typically out of necessity because they don’t have decent transit.”

      Nobody needs an expensive car. They may need a reliable median car, but they don’t need the luxury cars that so many dealerships specialize in.

      1. It’s not an issue of need. If you want to simply tax property then do so. Tax residential value. Tax boats etc. Cars are simply property. They may or may not contribute to the traffic problem.

        Tax should be based on 3 factors. Location of residence. Location of Work. Income.

      2. Actually, cars do- cities around the world have found that if you make cars and driving more expensive, people drive less and take transit more. Hence Hong Kong’s massive taxes on cars.

      1. So you tink I can aFFORD AN EXTRA $500, so I would like to know what you know about other people’s budgets, especially seniors on fixed income.

      2. Wasn’t replying to you, but David. He sounds like he can afford it. Since you presumably have a car that costs much less, or no car at all, you don’t have to worry about that part. And for housing, contact Seattle Senior Housing and they’ll be able to help you with paying less on housing.

      3. As much as some of us would like property taxes to not go up, I am not sure voting No on ST3 will help. With no transit expansion and the multi family housing it might support, the property values in close desirable neighborhoods like Madison are going to go up. The tax due to increase in assessment of the property may be more than what the increase would have been with ST3 rate hike.

  12. OK. I need new reading glasses, and along with editing, tend to miss details.

    Say, voter has these condtions:

    Kelly Blue Book car will sell for $700. Rent $1200 a month- so share of property tax can be calculated. Total income incl. Social Security $40 K.

    Senior Reduced Fare card $54. Willing to pay standard fare of $108, or reasonable regular pass price if good system requires. Now, for first time in this whole posting: What will my year’s taxes cost me?

    Not how much extra. How much total? My bet is I’ll come out Everett-Tacoma distance ahead if ST3 passes. Just asking actual total price. But there’s a condition: I have to start seeing increase in service however slight from inauguration day. One line signal pre-empt should be fine.

    Whole discussion this posting very disheartening. For cost to any individual, I still say soda pop bill- whose tax touched off a tax revolt will dwarf anybody’s tax bill for ST3. Failing answers and conditions above, I’ll vote positive out of habit for something that deserves to lose.

    Arguing from ideological principle over amounts well below reasonable is really thinking with the thoughts of the enemy. Anti-transit people love to see discussion shift this way.

    Mark Dublin

  13. Yeah – let’s stick it to those that own expensive cars. Those that own multiple cars. Because they are really contributing to the problem. I bet they drive all of their cars at once (somehow) at prime rush hour. Forget about the fact that most of these owners are collectors. Never mind that these owners may have 3 or 4 cars per adult that represent recreational vehicles such as motorcycles.

    This is ridiculous. There needs to be some limit to this punitive taxation on owners of more expensive cars.

    The tax should be based on 3 factors. Location of residence. Location of work. Income.

    Should someone who makes 4 x the income of someone else pay more tax. No doubt.

    Should someone that owns a car whose msrp was 200,000 and is driven 4000 miles a year pay 40 times the amount as someone whose car is worth 5000 but is driven 20,000 miles a year? I don’t think so. This is total b.s.

    Vote NO on ST3

    1. If you have a $200,000 collectible car, or several, in your garage, you are not typical. You are very rich, and already benefit from WA state’s incredibly regressive tax system.

      You may feel you’re just an average guy, but you’re not. You’re exceedingly fortunate and need to stop whining about it.

      1. I have one collector’s vehicle, that was $165k when new. Has the ST MVET fully depreciated over the last 25 years? Nope. Can it be changed? Nope. I paid $2000 for it 12 years ago, but I’m still paying MVET taxes based on some screwed up deprecation schedule that thinks this vehicle is still worth 16k. Its not even worth that in scrap value! Either fix the damn MVET or call the thing what it really is, a property tax. I can than have the vehicle re-appraised and pay taxes based on what its actually worth.

    2. Also, owning a $200,000 car means you have more income then a person who owns a $20,000 car, unless they are slumming it. So, the tax paid does correlate very well with income.

    3. You could always move down here to Portland and get nailed $35 per vehicle per year for Sellwood Bridge fees, no matter if you use the bridge or not.

      And also be subjected to Oregon income tax.

      And the city of Portland $35 per income earner Ambush Tax.

      1. …and yet the primary users of the Sellwood bridge, Clackastani motorists pay absolutely nothing. More redistribution of wealth from car-free urbanites to suburban motorists.

  14. Give them your money. Give them more than they ask for if you’re so hot on this

    Rogoff need a raise and a pension bump

    1. Actually, Sound Transit has been very good at keeping down salary and pension costs. And a bump of $20,000 in salary, say, is tiny compared to the billions in transit investment we’re going to get. 99% of the money will be spent on service, infrastructure, and maintenance. So, no, this is not a get rich quick scheme for ST’s executives.

  15. Anadakos, wish I could’ve answered you sooner. Very seriously, many thanks. But possible help for me right here in Olympia. Senator Pam Roach is demanding that Washington schools teach cursive writing.

    Good chance her fellow right wing Republicans will pay for my composition lessons with her while they’re nailing the Capitol doors shut to keep her from getting back in. Which given their well-earned hate and fear of her could distract them from fighting transit.

    Thurston County goose population fleeing in terror, squids soon extinct. Stay onto me.



  16. There are those comments again, aimed at some poor guy whose property tax keeps rising all out of proportion. “Move!” “How lucky you are to live in an expensive house!” You don’t have to be Mother Teresa to be sickened by the lack of empathy. My property tax topped $7300 this year, having gone up $1100 in one year. I expect it will go up another $1000 next year.

    It is perfectly reasonable to weigh the benefits of proposed projects against their cost. I live in north Seattle, and the only thing in ST3 for me is the NE 130th St station inserted by Deborah Juarez. This station will be about 20 feet closer to me than the NE 145th St station. To get to either one I have to navigate streets with no sidewalks or take two buses. To reach Ballard by transit I would do all this, then take the train downtown, then take another train back to Ballard. Or you know, I could drive. That would take about 1/4 the time. In fact I could ride my bike on the Burke-Gilman trail all the way to Ballard and it would still take less time than the train. I conclude the costs greatly outweigh the benefits and I, a lifelong transit supporter, will have no qualms whatsoever about voting no on ST3.

    1. We’re not being uncompassionate- it’s the market’s fault that his tax keeps going up. Without ST3, he’s going to get priced out anyway unless some serious increase in density and completed housing projects happens to meet the rising demand for housing. He needs the county to give him effective senior tax relief or he can sell the house, get a lot of profit, and move to something that’s cheaper for him while enjoying the money he got.

      You shouldn’t think about the benefits for you only- think about the benefits for the entire region. Your federal tax dollars go to fund science in the Northeast and education in West Virginia, which definitely doesn’t benefit you directly, but people vote for it because it benefits the entire country. Same with ST3- it links Redmond and Everett to Seattle, South King to Seattle, Tacoma to SeaTac, beefs up Sounder service, builds 522 BRT, and all sorts of other stuff. I think that it can be made much better, but this compromise is probably the best we’re going to get, and delaying this means we delay transit for quite a while longer.

      1. You can practically count on it–when someone blames “the market” for something, he doesn’t know what he is talking about. It’s not the increasing value of property that has raised property taxes so much recently, it’s all the levies voters have passed. Property tax has two parts. One is for the state, county, and municipality to fund basic government operations including schools. Taxing districts are limited by law to a 1% annual increase in property tax revenue regardless of changes in property values. If that was all that was going on, my property tax would have gone up at most $62 this year.

        The other part of property tax is from voter-approved levies. In some parts of King County, as much as 50 percent of 2016 property taxes are a result of voter-approved measures. New levies approved in 2015 include Best Starts for Kids, the Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network, and Move Seattle. Those levies resulted in my property tax going up $1100 this year. If ST3 and the housing levies pass this year, I expect another $1000 bump in my property tax.

        And don’t get me started about the ST3 projects and how they will benefit “the region.” Most of the projects you list are actually from ST2. The actual ST3 projects are a grab bag of very expensive items that barely help existing high density neighborhoods. It’s a complete falsehood that “delaying this means we delay transit for quite a while longer.” These projects won’t even get started for years. Both ST1 and ST2 failed the first time they came up for a vote, were then improved, and then passed the second time within a year of the initial failure. I realize ST polling puts ST3 ahead 70-30, but I still have some faint hope that voters will still see it for the turkey it is, and we will get a better option next year.

      2. Chris,

        You are so right and don’t get me started again on this mess. The other point is the ST3 is now supplementing the money we voted for in Move Seattle, like for the Madison BRT. That is the last straw! Where did it say that in the Move Seattle promo material?

        VOTE NO ON ST3 until our elected and non-elected start being honest with the public!

  17. My wife and I will be voting NO on ST3. We will be encouraging our neighbors, friends and relatives to do the same We are being taxed right out of our home and property. The State, King County and the various Municipalities are living like drunken sailors when it comes to SOMEONE else’s money. Somewhere it has to end so I will make my voice heard loud and clear at the ballot box NO on ST3. Are you listening?

    1. If you just don’t want to pay taxes for any public services, that’s a coherent position. Enjoy your Republican friends.

      1. You don’t have to be a Republican to VOTE NO ON ST3 and comments like the above strengthen my NO position too!

      2. Yes. Of course. If you weigh the costs and benefits of a particular tax, and decide you are against it, it follows that you are against all taxes for all public services.

      3. I don’t see much cost-benefit analysis from the tax complainers – just statements they don’t want to pay any more taxes.

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