Thursday marked Sound Transit's first board meeting since the public outcry over increased car-tab fees began several weeks ago.
For some frustrated car owners, it was a chance to voice their concerns directly to Sound Transit.
"Sound Transit is ripping us off, and you know it, and you're doing nothing about it," said Tim Eyman. "It's maddening. It's infuriating."
For others, it was a chance to show their support for public transit.
"I'm here encouraging you to do everything you can to move these projects forward and make them faster. We would oppose any efforts that would cancel or delay any projects for our region. These were investments that voters approved," said Abigail Doerr with the Transportation Choices Coalition.
Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff has said he understands the sticker shock some drivers in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties are now feeling.
On Thursday, he made a presentation to the Sound Transit board, to explain the reason behind the controversy.
"The issue has garnered this much attention in part because there are two depreciation schedules for vehicles values," he said.
Sound Transit currently uses a formula based on MSRP to calculate a vehicle's taxable value. It will continue to use that formula until bonds retire in 2028. At that point, Rogoff says Sound Transit would begin using an updated formula that the state legislature adopted in 2006.
Lawmakers are pushing for Sound Transit to use the updated formula now, in an effort to lower car-tab fees and provide taxpayers some relief.
But Sound Transit has said doing so means a $6 billion hit to Sound Transit Three and the expanded transit services promised under that plan.
More than a dozen bills have been introduced in Olympia, directly connected to Sound Transit and the car-tab issue.
"I think we have a credibility issue here, that's what's really important," said Sound Transit Board Member Bruce Dammeier. "We're entrusted with $54 billion by the taxpayers of this region. Earning their respect and having them believe we are treating this issue seriously is really important.”
Dammeier is also the Pierce County Executive. Many in Pierce County have complained about the tax increases being imposed under Sound Transit Three since the measure failed in Pierce County.
But others on the Sound Transit board said they've heard very little negative feedback about ST3 and increased car-tab fees.
"I just can't stress enough that we heard over and over again, almost 40,000 comments from people that they want this transit system built, and they want it sooner than later," said Sound Transit board member and King County Council member Claudia Balducci.
She and several others pointed out a majority of voters in the Sound Transit District said yes to Sound Transit Three, and because of that, the agency must now deliver the expanded light rail service it promised.
"A promise is a promise, it's a contract," said Sound Transit board member and Issaquah Mayor Fred Butler.
Sound Transit has said it's open to working with the legislature to find ways to address concerns over car-tab fees, but their hands are tied when it comes to certain factors.
Board Chair Dave Somers, the Snohomish County Executive, stressed that point once again during Thursday's meeting.
He introduced a motion directing the Sound Transit CEO to pursue all options to address public concerns regarding car-tab fees, but the fine print of the motion makes it clear just how few realistic options there actually are.
The motion, which was approved unanimously by the Sound Transit board, says the CEO should only consider options that don't interfere with Sound Transit's voter-endorsed projects or its obligations to bond holders.
Sound Transit board member and University Place Mayor Pro Tem Kent Keel pointed out that the language is quite limiting.
"There's not room to negotiate," he said. "We're saying we need the budget, we need the schedule, we need the scope. You can't negotiate in that situation."
Bottom line: taxpayers who were hoping Thursday's board meeting would lead to change that might save them money on car-tab fees will likely be disappointed by what took place.