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City supports County Council's formation of transportation benefit district

The King County Council on Monday unanimously approved the creation of a Transportation Development District, a separate taxing district that will have the authority to generate revenue for transit, roads and transportation other projects.

The idea was first proposed by King County Executive Dow Constantine in January. While the vote on Monday creates the district, a ballot measure is necessary to increase taxes or raise revenues, something the council will decide later this month.

The plan is to replace an expiring $20 car tab fee with a $60 fee, beginning in June as well as adding 0.1 percent to the sales tax, with 60 percent of the revenue raised going to Metro Transit and 40 percent going to roads.

The county estimates $80 million in new revenue from the tabs and an additional $50 million through the sales tax increase. The estimated impact is $11 per month for the average household in King County.

The Renton City Council heard a brief presentation Monday and there was a consensus to support sending the measure to voters, though no member of the council weighed in on whether they would support the measure should it make it on the ballot.

The money for roads would be split based on the population of each municipality. Officials estimate it could mean $2.5 million for Renton in the first year.

Councilmembers spoke of the need to fund Metro, which is facing a huge budget gap and has announced plans to reduce services by 17 percent later this year if additional funding is not found. In Renton the reduction would mean the deletion of six routes and a revision/reduction of 10 additional routes, though, according to Public Works Director Gregg Zimmerman, none of the six busiest routes in the city would be affected.

Mayor Denis Law said he thought it was in the “best interest” of the city to let voters make the decision, especially because a lot of transit riders in Renton and farther south would be affected.

“That being said,” he added, “it’s still a lot of money.”

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