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Bainbridge car tab fees raise nearly $100K in five months
Bainbridge Island has already pulled in nearly $100,000 in revenue from car tabs during the first five months of collecting the new fees.
The Bainbridge city council, acting as members of the Bainbridge Island Transportation Benefit District, voted 6-1 to approve a $20 car tab fee for vehicles on the island a year ago.
The move to establish a $20 car tab fee on island cars — an idea that was spearheaded by Bainbridge Councilwoman Anne Blair — initially found stop-and-go support from the council. Former councilman Barry Peters pursued the idea without success in 2008 and the years that followed, and Blair began to roll up some support for the proposal in 2012, though the council delayed a vote on car tab fees until the following year.
Bainbridge started assessing the $20 car tab fee, which is collected by the state Department of Licensing, in August 2013. The Department of Licensing receives 1 percent of Bainbridge car tab fees as payment for collecting the fees.
Bainbridge Finance Director Ellen Schroer said final numbers on the amount of car tab fees collected in 2013 are not yet available, but from August through November, the city has collected $98,762.
Final figures are expected when the city completes its preliminary year-end 2013 reporting, which will happen sometime toward the end of the first quarter of 2014.
Revenue from car tab fees will help pay to preserve, rebuild and maintain roads, as well as construct new transportation improvements.
Bainbridge officials earlier estimated that there are 18,557 registered vehicles on the island. Assuming a 90-percent collection rate, the city estimates the $20 car tab fees will bring in approximately $330,000 annually.
Peters said car tab fees were a vital piece of funding for ferries and road improvements before I-695, a Tim Eyman initiative, in 1999 eliminated them.
Bainbridge voted against I-695, Peters recalled, but it passed statewide.
"Ferry fares went up and road repairs declined because of the lack of funding," he said.
Peters said he started pushing for car tabs for Bainbridge during his time on the council, but with the recession underway, it was a tough sell.
"I advocated for it time and again. It didn't go anywhere until Anne [Blair] stepped forward the next year," Peters said.