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Small city of Orting makes big cuts to car tab tax

The Orting City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that will save residents $20 on car tab fees.

ORTING, Wash. — Leaders in one small city in Pierce County are taking matters into their own hands as the legal battle wears on over I-976, the statewide initiative that voters passed reducing car tab fees to $30.

The Orting city council voted unanimously on February 12 to eliminate a local car tabs tax, saving drivers $20 per vehicle on car tabs.

“It's really important to signal to voters that we heard their vote in response to initiative 976,” Orting mayor Joshua Penner said. “65 percent of our voters in Orting said that they don't believe that car tabs is an equitable way to fund transportation infrastructure.”

The change comes at a cost. Penner acknowledged that the city will have to suspend some maintenance projects for city streets but said the city will still have money on-hand to fix issues like potholes.

“We have about $250,000 in Transit Benefit District money banked right now,” Penner said. He added that rather than using the money for resurfacing and maintenance projects, the city would set the funds aside for “emergent projects” like pothole fixes.

The mayor said eliminating the local tax will mean the city will not have to send out refunds should the state Supreme Court decide to uphold I-976.

Not everyone KING 5 spoke to agreed that suspending road resurfacing projects was a good trade-off for eliminating the tax.

“We need that,” Pierce County resident Vee Steele said. “The roads are terrible.”

But most Orting residents supported eliminating  the tax.

“They actually want to reduce the tags, huh?” Orting resident Mike Vidales asked in disbelief. “That’s pretty good.”

“Works for me,” Orting resident Duane Holmes said. “Get the cost down!”

RELATED: Republican lawmakers introduce bill to cap car tab fees at $30 in Washington

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