King County voters saying no to Proposition 1

Wayne Osborne - Reporter file photo
Wayne Osborne
— image credit: Reporter file photo

King County voters were rejecting Proposition 1 by a 55-to-45 percent margin, according to results released Tuesday night by King County Elections. The no votes were 220,887 against, to 162,508 in favor.

The measure would have charged $60 per year for vehicle license fees and raised the sales tax 0.1 percent (to 9.6 percent) to help pay for Metro Transit bus service and road projects in the county and cities within the county.

Had it been approved, the proposition would have generated about $130 million annually, 60 percent of it going to Metro and 40 percent to the county and cities for road and other transportation projects.

Auburn would have received $1.7 million per year from the measure for street repairs, according to city officials. The amount distributed to each city was based on population.

The County Council formed a Transportation Benefit District in early February to send the measure to voters. County officials said they were trying to avoid Metro service cuts of 17 percent because of a lack of revenue, most of which, they claimed, was the result of a drop in sales tax revenue.

The Transportation Benefit District is similar in structure to the King County Ferry District and King County Flood Control District, with members of the county council acting as the board. The board has the authority to acquire, construct, improve, provide and fund transportation improvements identified in the transportation plan of the Puget Sound Regional Council, the county or a city within the county.

The Auburn City Council on Monday evening threw its support behind Prop. 1.

But City of Auburn Resolution 5058 did not pass without a raised eyebrow and one vote against.

Councilman Wayne Osborne said it was important to support a measure that had promised to add $1.7 million yearly to Auburn's transportation budget.

And if Prop 1 were to go down to defeat, Osborne continued, echoing one of King County's principal arguments in support of the measure, cash-strapped Metro would have had to cut its budget by 15 percent over time.

What puzzled Osborne was the timing of the City's resolution.

"I think it's important that we are doing it at this time, but I would like to have seen it done earlier," Osborne said.

Osborne voted for the resolution.

Claude DaCorsi was the only councilmember to vote no on the resolution. Although he acknowledged some of the benefits of Prop 1, his main concern was its potential economic effect on low-income people.

"Poor folks already have a difficult time coming up with money annually for vehicle registration," DaCorsi said.

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