License refund costs county nearly $790,000

Mirror staff

Voter-approved refunds of vehicle license fees will cost King County almost $790,000.

An order by King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu authorized the state Department of Licensing to issue refunds to vehicle owners who paid certain state and local vehicle licensing fees affected by Initiative 776 while the ballot measure was under court review.

I-776, passed by voters in November 2002, eliminated locally approved $15 county licensing fees in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Douglas counties. It also reduced the gross-weight fees on light trucks to $30 statewide.

Before the rollbacks took effect, a legal action was filed against the state, challenging the constitutionality of the initiative. The state continued collecting the fees while the case was being decided.

Last October, the state Supreme Court ruled I-776 didn’t violate the state constitution. Shortly after, all state and local fees were changed to comply with the initiative.

King County will pay all the administrative costs to mail more than 1 million refund checks that include only the county’s $15 licensing fee.

The county will also pay half of the cost of mailing 138,504 refund checks that include both the county fee refund and a state gross-weight fee refund. The total cost to the county will be $789,814, officials said.

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