Mayor's Meeting

Washington State Troopers Association President Jeff Merrill spoke with Lewis County elected officials Friday at the monthly Mayor's Meeting hosted by the Lewis County Board of Commissioners.

Several Lewis County elected officials were on hand Friday morning to hear from Washington State Troopers Association President Jeff Merrill on Initiative 976, which seeks to limit motor vehicles taxes and fees at the Lewis County Courthouse

Merrill spoke at Friday’s Mayor’s Meeting, a monthly event hosted by the Lewis County Board of Commissioners.

As the meeting’s featured guest speaker at the county courthouse conference, Merrill discussed his many concerns regarding 1-976, currently being promoted by anti-tax advocate Tim Eyman. The initiative proposes that annual license fees for vehicles weighing under 10,000 pounds be limited to $30. 

“Seldom do we get involved in politics. We like to stay out of the fray,” Merrill said. “This is an initiative we believe could have very harmful and have lasting impacts to the community and to our transportation infrastructure. This is one of those times that we’ve been asked to chime in.” 

Eyman’s indirect initiated state statute, which is up for vote on Nov. 5, would also look to base vehicle taxes on the Kelley Blue Book value rather than 85-percent of the manufacturer’s base suggested retail price, along with repealing local Transportation Benefit District fees and repealing authorization for certain regional transit authorities, such as Sound Transit, to impose vehicle excise taxes. 

“This is a challenging measure. This measure seeks to overturn in excess of $25 billion in transportation and infrastructure improvements during the course of the next decade and a half or so,” continued Merrill. 

The initiative, he added, began as a result of Sound Transit getting “a little frugal” in the way they assess taxation methods versus Kelley Blue Book.  

“Since then, that’s been corrected, but the anger lingers,” said Merrill. 

Among those who weighed in on the issue was Chehalis Mayor Dennis Dawes, who said that he “understands” the state’s need for dollars and that he generally agrees with the Washington State Troopers Association’s stance on the matter. 

However, Dawes said that he believes it’s time for state legislation to “quit sneaking” fees, such as the $150 tax on electrical vehicles. 

“Those darn add-ons,” he said, “tick people off. I wouldn’t be surprised if you probably see people who are going to vote no, vote yes just for that reason.” 

Centralia Mayor Lee Coumbs expressed his own concerns about the impacts of I-976 being voted into law by openly wondering if the measure would eliminate existing local Transportation Benefit District funding for projects that have already been approved. 

In particular, he referenced an ongoing local improvement venture to renovate streets in Centralia. 

“We have big plans for this and you’re telling me that if this passes, we will eliminate that?” asked Coumbs. 

Merrill said that he “can’t believe” that any of those plans would be discarded as a result of I-976 being passed. 

The WSP Troopers Association President was joined by fellow trooper Will Finn, as he later talked with the county commissioners and mayors in attendance about his department’s struggles with staffing. He mentioned a new recruitment program being one way the Troopers Association is hoping to solve their current shortage of about 100 officers.

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(11) comments


Asked to “chime in” by whom, Jeff? You are law enforcement. Since when do we ever need to hear your chiming about any legislation? How about you stay in your lane and enforce laws? We citizens and legislators will deal with the crafting of those laws.


I think he was spot on and has every right to speak his words. We were lied to about this! Time to make it right again.


Asked by those with their hands out for the money. Our tax dollars are being used to fight this.

The tabs for the first new car that I purchased in Washington State were $700 per year. When an has been fighting the politicians on this for 30 years. The Seattle politicians are always trying to like the cost of their favorite projects on the vehicle owner. This is the backlash. Unfortunately it hurts highway projects.

I meant Eyman has been fighting for 30 years. Dang autocorrect.


Recently purchased a used vehicle for $400 (KBB value $600). I paid $175 to title/register it (mid'90s gas-sipper, ragamuffin commuter on wheels).

Then sold a vehicle for $750 (KBB value $750) and costs ME, the Seller, $13+ to notify of sale! (Even though my release of interest [attached originally to the title] STATES I can do it for free!...guess the State will print what they want, but overrule/ignore at whim).

My 2 -New- vehicles were over 700 to title/register, each.

At what point do we say enough!

Quit sneaking in and finding new ways to take our money! It's hard enough to make it as it is (especially on LC pay average with ever-increasing/near Thurston/King+ costs of living)

Paying a fair share is expected, but at what point does the State look at itself and go "hmm.. How about finding the unnecessary/wasteful spending instead of just throwing more of other people's money at it"?

It's called frugality, WA State - study up on it!


I find it hard to believe the state is so cash strapped the taxes must increased or not allowed to be cut. To me, it's more like a bad example of messed up priories than no money. The State Government needs to get back to funding only those items that cannot be done by the private sector. Once that happens, there will be enough money to fix our roads and bridges with cash to spare.


they are strapped because 2019 Legislative session put in 28B (That BILLION) in new taxes and its already accounted for in new spending.


what I hear, is its ok to steal money from us you arent due, but its "ok" because its going to a good cause. BS. If Rob you r home, but use the money for a good cause, then that should be ok too, right? No. But if government does it, its "ok".

They lies are scare tractics are amazing. The state has 3.5 BILLION in excess, which is enough to cover the hit. Yet every municipality is on the government teat for this money, and will have to actually justify it this time, instead of it being handed out like Halloween treats.


Another part of the lies and deception. Car tabs dont go to road maintenance, gas taxes do.


In the end, the WSP is ok with stealing money, as they've been doing it to drivers for decades.

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