LETTER: Burien City Council To Impose License Fee Without Voter Approval?
If any of you are still awake after last year’s election goofiness, well it’s starting again.
The November 2009 Burien ballot included a proposal for a $25 vehicle license fee to pay for road improvements. It was hidden under a fully-owned subsidiary called the Transportation Benefit District.
I loudly opposed the license fee in print and blog. Then the vote was nearly 75% AGAINST the license fee. Apparently, rejection doesn’t bother this council. Apparently, the Burien City Council has forgotten the landslide support for $30 license tabs?
After the resounding defeat of this â€œhand in your walletâ€, I predicted the Council would be back with a license fee that did NOT require voter approval. And here it is. I really hate to be right.
So, on April 26th, the Council voted to impose a vehicles license fee that DOES NOT require voter approval. Under the law authorizing the fully-owned subsidiaries called Transportation Benefit Districts, a public hearing is required to impose a fee â€“ even one that doesn’t require voter approval. That hearing is a mere formality. If you have a comment, it is also just a formality. The council has already decided to impose the license fee. This time the fee is $10 â€“ why $10? Two reasons: they can impose it without voter approval, and you are unlikely to make an issue about $10. Talk about cynical.
Last fall, the license fee would not have been assessed on vehicle owners in the yet-to-be-annexed North Highline area â€“ they were not yet Burien citizens. Now that those 15,000 folks are proud Burien citizens and will be subject to the license fee.
So, the mere formality hearing is scheduled for June 21st. I urge the 75% of voters who rejected the $25 license fee to also reject the $10 license fee. Show up and be heard. If the council adopts the license fee despite overwhelming opposition (it’s a tradition with the Burien Council) surely the public outrage will be enough to force a vote through citizen referendum. We did that in 1996 to repeal the city’s first utility tax: we can do it again.
– Stephen Lamphear
Burien Councilmember 1998-2005