The Snoqualmie City Council will consider an ordinance to temporarily increase vehicle license fees in Snoqualmie from $20 per year to $40 per year to fund the city’s portion of the new Interstate 90/State Route 18 dedicated on-ramp that opened last December. If the Council approves the increase, it will take effect April 1, 2020 and will be repealed on April 1, 2022. The current $20 fee would remain in place at that time.
In November 2019, Washington State voters passed Initiative 976 (I-976), which limits taxes and fees on motor vehicle licenses. However, 54% of Snoqualmie voters rejected I-976. The initiative has not been implemented and is on hold temporarily pending the outcome of a coalition lawsuit in King County Superior Court and further court action.
“The revenue from a two-year temporary car tab fee will help preserve monies budgeted for other critical capital and street projects in the City,” stated Mayor Matt Larson. “The on-ramp investment has greatly improved the traffic flow onto westbound I-90 from the Snoqualmie Parkway, especially during high commuting hours.”
The city currently collects a $20 vehicle license fee with the proceeds held in reserve for critical road infrastructure projects, such as a future repaving of Snoqualmie Parkway, which will cost several million dollars. The fee also pays for current infrastructure projects such as road repairs and replacement as needed for safety and to avoid more expensive infrastructure replacements in the future.
The potential $40 licensing fee would have a $20 set aside for reserves and current infrastructure projects, with the other $20 allocated to the on-ramp project cost.
The on-ramp project investment was approximately $1.2 million, divided by a 50/50 match between the City of Snoqualmie and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
The City of Snoqualmie match of $597,429 was partially funded through a $75,000 contribution from the Snoqualmie Tribe, a $50,000 contribution from the City of Covington, and a $50,000 contribution from the City of Maple Valley. The remaining $422,429 could be paid to WSDOT by the City of Snoqualmie through a limited 24-month increase in vehicle license fees.
There will be a public hearing at the City Council meeting on March 9 at 7 p.m. Council members will vote on the ordinance that evening.
The larger I-90/SR-18 Interchange Improvement Project is scheduled to begin in 2021 with a diverging diamond design and is scheduled to open in 2023. The new on-ramp will be used throughout construction to accommodate current traffic needs.
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City of Snoqualmie
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