East Wenatchee Repeals $20 Vehicle Licensing Fee
The city of East Wenatchee is touting it's repeal of a $20 vehicle licensing fee.
The fee has funded the City’s Transportation Benefit District for nearly the past decade.
The City Council repealed the tax Tuesday night and replaced it with a 0.1 percent sales and use tax to continue funding the district.
A statement from the city says the change will save families in East Wenatchee an average of $41 a year.
Notable items exempt from the sales tax include most groceries, prescription drugs, utilities, gasoline, and real property.
The city council made the study of moving from car tabs to a sales tax model a strategic plan goal last year.
The thought process was based on the overwhelming popularity of the ballot measure known as Initiative 976 (I-976) in the November 2019 election.
I-976 passed with 68% of the vote in Douglas County and would have limited all vehicle licensing fees to $30.
But the initiative was ruled unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court several months after it passed in February 2020.
The Court found I-976 violated the Washington Constitution because it dealt with more than one subject.
Meanwhile, Douglas County Commissioners this year rejected East Wenatchee's plan to annex sections of the county to the north and south of its city limits
And during a public hearing on the proposed annexation in May, councilors noticed there was consistent opposition to the City’s $20 vehicle licensing fee.
According to the city, all money collected by its Transportation Benefit District is reinvested back into the City’s roads, with a focus on local access streets.
It benefits streets that typically are not eligible for state and federal grants, and thus rely on the District to fund essential maintenance.
The city claims that about 5.4 miles of resurfacing have been completed across 28 streets since the District was created in 2013.
It also claims that revenues to the District are expected to increase by approximately $150,000, or 57%, which will allow for more street repairs each year.
The city says moving licensing fees to a sales tax relieves citizens from the burden of maintaining City streets, and instead distributes it to all people who use the City’s streets to reach its commercial c