LETTER TO THE EDITOR: “Why I Can’t Support The Transportation Benefit District Fee”
[EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re now publishing “Letters to the Editor,” and encourage all Readers to email us their opinions or thoughts (another option of course is to Comment below each story). Below is a letter from longtime Burien-area resident and former city councilmember Stephen Lamphear:]
Dear Editor —
The city of Burien is proposing a new $25 yearly vehicle license fee. Looking at your Voters Pamphlet, you won’t find this proposal connected to the city of Burien. In fact, you have to thumb all the way to page 100 — end of the Voters Pamphlet — to find it. You will not find the word Burien anywhere in the ballot title. Instead, you will find Transportation Benefit District No.1, Proposition No.1 — yet this is strictly a city revenue proposal. A stealth move if ever I saw one.
For two reasons I cannot support this measure.
First of all, the $25 license fee is a regressive tax that, like utility taxes, hits our working families and lower income people the hardest. Since this is a “fee” — not an excise tax — it is not even deductible on federal income taxes.
If these bicycle and sidewalk improvements are necessary at a time of broad personal economic hardship, there are fairer ways to raise the money. The most obvious, fairer way to raise public money is a voter-approved special property tax levy. At least property taxes are deductible on federal income taxes and more directly affect people of means — also, it calls a duck a duck.
Secondly, having the Transit Benefit District boardmembers the same as the city council is merely “left pocket, right pocket”. I might support a TBD if we were also electing independent commissioners, as is being done for the proposed Des Moines Pool District. I’d rather have independent input on special projects and taxes. However, the interlocking board of directors/councilmembers makes this little more than a work-around for the city council to raise taxes without their name on the price tag: “The council didn’t raise taxes, the TBD did it.”
While, I can afford the $25 for this ill-conceived proposal to improve the community, the working family down the street with 4 cars (everyone works) will have to pony up $100 — money they can ill-afford and not deduct on income taxes. Businesses will also pay this fee and pass it on in higher prices.
Yes, we totally need safe streets: safe for children to walk to school, safe for bicycles. This is not the way to do it. Vote NO on Transportation Benefit District No.1, Proposition No.1. When doing the right thing, you also have to do the thing right.
(Stephen Lamphear is a longtime Burien resident, former City Councilmember and frequent Contributor to The B-Town Blog. Read more of his writing here.)
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Have something you’d like to say? Then email us a Letter to the Editor by clicking here, and pending our review (for libel, etc.), we’ll most likely post it.]