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Lynnwood City Council discusses eliminating $40 vehicle license fee

On Monday, October 11, 2021, Lynnwood City Council members discussed eliminating the $40 vehicle license fee. The ordinance did not pass in this week’s session, but it was moved to the Work Session on October 18. The council also read in the city’s proclamation of the 2021 Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Lynnwood, Wash., October 15, 2021 – During Monday’s Lynnwood City Council Business Meeting, one item on the agenda caused a stir among council members: an ordinance regarding the “Elimination of Lynnwood Vehicle License Fee.” In the city of Lynnwood, car owners must pay a $40 Vehicle License Fee imposed by the city’s Transportation Benefits District (TBD), and this ordinance would eliminate it come January 2023.

Debate over the ordinance

When the ordinance was presented in the agenda, a council member motioned to postpone discussing the matter for multiple reasons — one being a lack of discussion and preparation time, another being the fact that new council members would soon be elected who would inherit the decision without having a say. There was also some discussion regarding procedural decorum.

George Hurst
Council President George Hurst

After hearing input from all council members, they voted on the motion to postpone discussing the issue during the session, which failed in a three to four vote.

Council President George Hurst, who included the ordinance in the session’s agenda, asserted that his “opposition to the licensing fee has been consistent since 2016,” indicating that this motion was “not a last-minute decision” for him. He also stated that October is a traditional month for TBD meetings, further defending the timeliness of the ordinance. 

Hurst went on to note that in November 2019, the majority of Lynnwood voters voted for the I-976 initiative that would limit car tabs to be $30. “So it’s time to end those fees,” Hurst said.

He reiterated how, during the September 27 Business Meeting, the Public Works Department presentation to the council on the TBD fund and noted that the 2020-21 balance budget was approved without including the $40 vehicle fee.

In anticipation of the 2022-2023 budget for the city, the ordinance states that the collection of vehicle fees will not end until January 1, 2023, “so that there will be time to go through a complete budget process,” Hurst explained.

Before noting that out of the 110 cities in Washington that have TBDs, only 6 of them assess both sales tax and a vehicle fee, Hurst said, “There will be time to make roads a real budget priority, and it can be a priority without relying on vehicle fees.”

After noting the council’s passiveness in addressing the issue, Hurst explained why the council should take action immediately and instead of postponing again. He urged his fellow council members to join him in voting to eliminate the vehicle fees. 

The council members who opposed the motion at the time of this session voiced their concerns. One council member said that approving the motion now would be “short-sighted” and that they should not decide until they know what expenses will be impacted.

Another echoed the same sentiment and said it was an “inappropriate time to do this,” suggesting Hurst doesn’t understand the full impact it could have. “We’re still in the middle of a pandemic,” the councilmember added, “we’re still in unknown times at the moment.”

A third member to voice their issue with eliminating the $40 vehicle fee said, “It’s a really good deal if you can get a million dollars to work on your streets for $40 a year.” When it comes to the needs of the community, they said, “you can’t get a better deal.” They also noted that not all Lynnwood citizens own vehicles.

The Council votes, the motion fails.

The vote to eliminate the $40 Vehicle Fee went as follows:

  • Patrick Decker: Yes
  • Christine Frizzell: No
  • George Hurst: Yes
  • Ruth Ross: No
  • Shannon Sessions: No
  • Jim Smith: Yes
  • Julieta Altamirano-Crosby: No

The motion failed with a four to three vote. 

Revisiting the ordinance in the next Work Session

Julieta Altamirano-Crosby.

Afterward, Council Member Altamirano-Crosby motioned to move the ordinance to the next Work Session on October 18. In doing so, she aims to gather more information and have more conversations with the community, indicating that she is in favor but would like to do her “homework with the community” before revisiting the subject. 

After a 5-2 vote, with Frizzell and Sessions dissenting, the motion has officially been moved to the upcoming October 18 Work Session.

Proclamation for Indigenous People’s Day

During the same City Council Business Meeting, Title 6 Native Education Specialist at Edmond’s School District Karen Elliot said, “As a Native Educator, I recognize that the city Lynnwood today stands on the lands and waters of (Indigenous People).”

To listen to her full statement, click here.

After Elliot’s statements, Councilwoman Shannon Sessions read the City of Lynnwood’s Proclamation: 2021 Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The final paragraph of the proclamation reads: “NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the we, Mayor Nicola Smith, and the Lynnwood City Council, do hereby proclaim that October 11, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Lynnwood. We call upon public officials, educators, businesses, communities, volunteers, and all the people of Lynnwood, Washington to observe this day to honor and celebrate the thriving cultures and positive values of the Indigenous People of our region.”


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