O’Ban, Rossi say Sound Transit move to engage misses mark

The Sound Transit board passed a motion today to authorize its CEO “to continue communications and engagement with the State Legislature” in order to “pursue options to address public concerns” about its inflated car tab tax calculation method.  Sens. Steve O’Ban and Dino Rossi said the premise of the motion does not address the public outrage, but the desires of Sound Transit.

“We’re not here to negotiate Sound Transit’s continued use of its false car tab valuations,” said O’Ban, R-University Place. “We’re here to put a stop to it.”

Rossi, R-Sammamish, agreed.

“They seem to think we’ll stop fighting for taxpayers if they promise to steal a little less,” Rossi said.  “But we’re not going to play that game. The public is demanding a fair method of valuing vehicles, and we will settle for nothing less.”

O’Ban successfully amended the Senate Transportation budget this week to prohibit state collection of regional transit authority car tab fees that do not use fair vehicle values. The amendment would take effect if the Legislature failed to enact Senate Bill 5893 (O’Ban, Rossi), which would ban the state from contracting to collect Sound Transit fees based on inflated valuation methods and would require Sound Transit to fully reimburse the state for costs associated with collections. 

Sound Transit board members also unanimously approved a $225 million dollar increase for a construction contract to build light rail across I-90 between Bellevue and Seattle. 

“They keep telling us that using Kelley Blue Book to arrive at vehicle values would cause them to go over budget,” said Rossi. “Well they’re more than 46 percent over budget on this contract—what’s their excuse now?”

O’Ban noted that even with the dramatic price hike, Sound Transit did not reopen bidding on the light rail project. 

“When confronted with their overcharging of taxpayers, Sound Transit officials act cash strapped,” O’Ban said. “But when nearly a quarter of a billion dollars is added to a single project, it’s no problem. Taxpayers are not buying it and neither are lawmakers.”