City Council approves $20 car tab fee and other taxes

Update: The City Council also approved a series of new and increased taxes last night, including a higher property tax, new business tax and an increase in utility taxes.

Councilman Jim Smith was disappointed in the results. “I passionately requested that the Council not raise these taxes and voted ‘no’ on each one of them. Many people are hurting right now, and these new taxes, including the $20 car tab tax), on top of the taxes added these last four years, will have a devastating effect on our citizens,” he said in an e-mail to Lynnwood Today.

By a 6-to-1 vote, the Lynnwood City Council decided Monday night to add a new $20 fee to vehicle registrations within the city limits. Councilman Jim Smith was the lone dissenting vote.

The fee will be collected starting in June 2011 and will generate about $420,000 per year for road projects.

Tim Eyman, who lives in neighboring Mukilteo, spoke against the car tab fees. “Voters have been very clear about wanting to vote on higher car tabs and it’s not a good reason for the Council to justify ignoring voters by saying ‘but we really need the money,'” he said.

Twenty dollars is the highest fee that can be enacted without a public vote. A sales tax increase, which also requires voter approval, was another option. Councilman Ted Hikel didn’t rule out asking the voters for this option.

    1. I personally took the opportunity to thank Tim Eyman, my favorite initiative sponsor, for volunteering to keep us safe from the politicians.

  1. If my income drops I have to stop spending as much. Why oh why does the Council think they live by different economic rules?

  2. When my income falls I have to quit spending as much as I did. I’d go to jail if I tried to extort more money from my neighbor. Why does the council think they live in a different economic world than the rest of us?

  3. My city, Lynnwood, won’t live on the same budget requirments that us in this finaicailly strapped time are forced to. With dropping wages and less income, I now have to pay my city more to support their less that austere projects.

    1. Oh sure, you get to pay for all kinds of stuff. Apparently they just got finished refurbishing some administrative building. Another pressing need and wise use of scarce tax dollars in the midst of an economic depression, wouldn’t you say?

  4. And this was only the smallest tax increase they passed. All of the rest of the tax increase measures passed also, naturally.

    So when, as a result of this meeting, you find yourself paying…

    An extra $20 per vehicle…

    And paying higher utility rates…

    And paying higher employee taxes…

    And paying higher property taxes…

    … Remember that they’re all going to fund such pressing necessities as Lynnwood University and Public Art, and that every member of “The Family” of Lynnwood incompetent civil-servants are safe and snug in their taxpayer-funded jobs, insulated and protected from the realities of the economy…

    And you’re stuck paying their way, but even moreso now. And if you’re out of work? Barely making ends meet? Tough luck, sucker. The Family comes first, and you ain’t a member.

  5. I can’t help but notice that 3 of the 6 council members voting in the affirmative are up for re-election in 2011, actually only 2 of them since Ed dos Remedios was never elected in the first place.

    I plan to keep this tax increase in mind when I vote next year.

  6. Mr. Mayor, and city council You need to step up and quit this nonsense in these economic times, we will now be moving away from the ‘mob’ last time I checked extorsion was a crime..shame on you!

  7. What is the matter with the council? They completely lost my support last night and lost my vote for the future.

  8. Hey JacquesKlahaya:

    I agree with you! Lynnwood university and all art projects need to be canceled. Period. I think the city also needs to shorten the work week of non-essential services personnel to 4 days. The budget is that bad. I was a bit surprised last night when I thought I heard Mr. Hikel bring up something that sounded like a new building? If indeed he was speaking about a new city facility it would be absolutely the wrong time. I wonder if anyone has any idea what he was talking about?

    1. The problem is, those superfluous money-wasting programs will not be eliminated. If I understood correctly, the lackeys on the council pulled out all the stops to protect Lynnwood University — claimed they eliminated its host department but they simply moved it into Parks and Recreation — the usual shell game.

      Obviously it’s somebody’s pet project or the people who work there are related to the right people.

      As for furlough days and a shorter work week for non-essentials, that should have been implemented two years ago. If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s not going to happen. It’s much easier to just tax the hell out of you and me whenever the civil servants snap their fingers.

      1. I agree again. You know I wish it was possible for the citizens to sue for the mismanagement of city funds. The lack of clear thinking and focus at the meeting was deafening and insulting.

  9. I think it is important to realize we are clearly in really difficult times and there are no easy decisions. Having mass layoffs at the police and fire departments just isn’t in the interest of keeping our city safe. But, having said that, the real problem of raising taxes is that it becomes a permanent fixture of the city staple. In other words, once they have the extra money to spend there is, or so it seems to me, no way to ever get taxes lowered once the economy improves. I went to several of the city council meetings and I think, for the most part, the council is dealing with the hand is has been dealt. I would have liked these new taxes to have automatic reversion provisions that would have the tax increases rolled back automatically to where they were before the recession (say in 2 or 3 years); or to have them go through the voting process as they do with other bonds and such…

    1. Sid, I’m afraid I could not disagree more with the following statement:

      [i]”…I think, for the most part, the council is dealing with the hand is has been dealt. “[/i]

      Nothing could be further from the truth. This city council isn’t the hapless victim of unforeseeable circumstances. Not by a long shot. They created this mess in conjunction with the mayor. What could they possibly have been thinking when they approved spending $28 million on the frivolous luxury of the rec center? And look at how, to this very day, they have prevented one single layoff of any of the bloated staff at city hall?

      I applaud you for attending the meetings and I concur with you regarding the permanent nature of these taxes. Note that at the last meeting, Councilman Jim Smith suggested that a motion be made to insert a sunset provision into one of the taxes — and not one of his colleagues who voted for that new tax made that motion. Plainly they want the tax to be permanent and if any of them say otherwise, they are lying plain and simple.

      1. You make good points and I must confess that I have only become interested in the city politics over the last several months and am still trying to get a grasp of the facts. So I welcome your comments. Also, I exited before the vote at the last meeting but I’m glad councilman Smith tried to put forward sunset provisions for these new taxes even though his appeal went unheeded.

        With that said, from my vantage point, this situation, to use a metaphor, is a “multiple car pileup.” There are many players and probably much blame that could be spread around. With that said, to pin these problems primarily or only on the council would be a mistake. For instance, to blame the council when, for instance, Councilman Smith voted against the new aquatics center would be painting with too broad a brush, or so it seems to me. With that said, the council is a party to the accident. But, if anyone should get a ticket for the mishap, it should be the mayor.

        Lastly, if this turns out to be mostly a tax raising event, and essentially NO cost cutting or layoffs by the city, then this will have been a travesty. Cutting costs it clearly what normal people have had to to do in this nasty recession. Why shouldn’t government have to abide by the same medicine? Besides hiring people back is easier than rolling back tax increases which is near impossible…

        1. Your last paragraph sums it up in a nutshell, Sid. Unfortunately by the criteria you lay out, it is indeed a travesty.

          I’ve been following this dysfunctional government pretty closely for a few years now and I will simply offer this for your consideration: to this very day, two to three years into the worst recession of the modern era, there have been no cuts to bloated staff at city hall. Not one. Indeed, they have not had even a furlough day or even a reduction in hours. In fact, the City Council went so far as to strip the mayor of his ability to make those necessary cuts. Remember that trumped-up witch hunt a few months back that was used as a pretext to ensure that no civil servants were cut? I do. The writing was on the wall then that “The Family” of civil service owns the council whole and entire, with the possible exception of Jim Smith, so it was a guarantee that there would be no cuts.

          And despite all of the above, spending on frivolous, wasteful, bureaucratic-bloat luxuries like Lynnwood University and public arts continue unabated at the same time they’re threatening us with cuts to fire and police as justification for raising taxes to a degree that can only be called unprecedented.

          So, in short, there will be no cuts, only a mass extortion of money from the very people who can not afford it.

          To my mind, Lynnwood is simply a modern-day Sherwood Forest, but Robin Hood is dead and the peasants are at the mercy of the Sheriff of Nottingham and his henchmen (Council and civil servants).

          You must bear ever in mind this city’s council, as a body, has historically been nothing short of power-hungry and quite naked in its desire to actually run the city and turn the mayor into their little errand boy. Before Mayor Gough, it was Mayor McKinnon; go figure, they couldn’t get along with him either. Imagine that! So, now it’s Mayor Gough and second verse, same as the first.

          I can only suggest that you will be well served by recalling The Boy Who Cried Wolf every time you consider Lynnwood City Council and its latest allegation du jour about the mayor. This mayor has his faults like anybody else, but for self-serving political purposes, the council and civil service regularly apply a funhouse mirror to him in order to exaggerate what suits their interests, and if that doesn’t work, they outright lie.

          I’m getting far afield at this point so I’ll shut up. Meanwhile, I suggest you stay tuned rather than tuning out (which is what most decent people do, since you can only look at this city government for so long without wanting to retch). Months ago I predicted that they’d raise taxes across the board and not one member of The Family (civil service) would be cut, wasteful programming would continue, etc., and so far I’ve been proven 100% right. Keep watching diligently and I bet you good money you’ll see the same unsavory trends that I have.

          1. Thanks for your lengthy comments Jacques. Whether one agrees with you completely or not, they must admit that you are a good writer and articulate your points well. Indeed I plan to stay involved and will try not to tune out…thanks for that encouragement…

  10. 567% head tax increase, Lynnwood Council????
    After Seattle got rid of their 25% during tough times?????
    Lynnwood residents, I think your city council is on crack cocaine.
    Shame on you guys for not being informed and raising hell in city hall.

    Enjoy the sight of more empty commercial real estate buildings!
    I’m so glad I don’t live in this God-forsaken, police state cesspool.

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