File photo 
                                I-976, results in $30 car tabs.

File photo I-976, results in $30 car tabs.

Bridge remodel, Juanita Drive improvements, other Kenmore capital projects jeopardized by I-976

The city’s operating and capital budgets have question marks on them following the passage of I-976.

At the Nov. 18 Kenmore City Council meeting, city manager Rob Karlinsey provided an update on how Kenmore will be impacted by the passing of Initiative 976.

I-976 was approved by the public during the Nov. 5 election. The initiative, which is backed by political activist Tim Eyman, results in $30 car tabs, Sound Transit motor vehicle excise tax reduction and more. These changes, though, come with potentially more than $100 million in King County Metro service cuts over the next six years, as well as a $1.9 billion state loss in revenue through 2025, according to the state’s Office of Financial Management.

Shortly after the initiative’s passage, several local governments, transit agencies and other entities joined a lawsuit in King County Superior Court that challenges I-976. The lawsuit claims that the initiative breaches numerous parts of Washington state’s constitution. Separate from the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are also seeking an immediate injunction to prevent I-976 from taking effect, according to a King County press release.

If not prevented, repercussions may start being seen in King County as early as Dec. 5.

Karlinsey said Kenmore, as a result of the initiative, will see about $360,000 of its operating budget disappear, stemming from the money accrued from the city’s council-approved $20 vehicle license fee. Currently, the city’s operating revenues are not syncing up with business-cost needs, creating an upcoming structural deficit. Without the $360,000, Karlinsey said that looming structural operating problems will be worsened.

The capital budget, which is separate from operations, will also be affected. The capital budget is made up of one-time-funded programs. Several key projects — including West Sammamish Bridge renovations and construction on new sidewalks and bike lanes on Juanita Drive and 68th Avenue Northeast — are now up in the air. Future work, such as study funding for a pedestrian multi-modal crossing over State Route 522, is also in jeopardy.

Karlinsey said that, according Gov. Jay Inslee, projects that are not already underway will have to be put on pause, though it isn’t exactly clear what defines “underway.” Since the West Sammamish Bridge project is out for bid, Karlinsey is hoping this will prevent its progress from being halted.

“We’re trying to get a definition of what underway means,” he said. “We’re hoping that out to bid means underway.”

Karlinsey added that he assumes that there will be more clarity on Dec. 20, when Inslee releases his preliminary proposed budget.

“Hopefully, we’ll get some direction on that…It’s a lot of money that we’re talking about that could be affecting Kenmore,” Karlinsey said. “Don’t have answers on all that yet, but many millions of dollars now have a big question mark on them on the capital side of the budget.”

Watch the meeting in full on Kenmore’s YouTube page at tinyurl.com/vn6vbqm.

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