Sound Transit says it overestimated the typical tax burden, if voters in the fall approve ST3. Data show most people own cheap used cars, so they would pay less in taxes.

Share story

Sound Transit has revised its estimated typical “cost per adult” down to $169 a year in higher taxes, if voters this fall approve the Sound Transit 3 expansion plan.

The decrease, announced Friday, is based mainly on the fact most people own cheap used cars. Previously, the ST 3 tax figure was $203 a year per adult, or $392 per household.

ST3 calls for yearly tax increases of $80 yearly per $10,000 vehicle value, $25 per $100,000 of property value, and a sales-tax hike of 5 cents per $10 purchase.

Though the average car value in Snohomish, Pierce and King counties is $10,135, a closer data search found the median value within the transit district was only $5,333, according to a memo by Chief Financial Officer Brian McCartan.

Most Read Local Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Using the $5,333 median figure would cut the previous $78 car-tax estimate down to $43 for a “typical” owner, he said. A minority of people own new or luxury cars that drive up the average, but 68 percent of cars are worth less than $10,000 based on state depreciation charts.

The new taxes, plus existing taxes, would finance a 25-year, $54 billion program to extend light-rail lines to Paine Field, Everett, Redmond, Issaquah, Tacoma, West Seattle and Ballard, boosting the network to a half-million daily passengers.