Attorney proposes refunding $125 million to settle Sound Transit car tab lawsuit

An attorney representing several people suing Sound Transit over car tab fees proposed a settlement deal that would refund a total of $125 million.

Joel Ard is representing a group of people suing Sound Transit over car tabs.

Ard says Sound Transit is using an inflated way to calculate car tabs.

He says the current way tabs are collected is forcing car owners to pay more than they should, and more than they expected when they voted to approve the tab tax.

“I think there is a solution for us to get together and solve this quickly and, frankly, favorable to them,” said Ard.

Seven residents filed the lawsuit that seeks to overturn a rate increase by Sound Transit.

Voters in 2016 approved the rate hike to fund the Sound Transit 3 expansion project.

The lawsuit seeks a refund of millions of dollars collected through the increase to help fund the $54 billion expansion.

They contend the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax rate increase is illegal because it resulted from an unconstitutional provision in state law placing the plan on the ballot.

Ard says the settlement would refund about 25 percent of car tabs collected since March 2017. He says that equals about $125 million.

He also says the annual cost for tabs would go down for people in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.

“Our position has never been we’re anti-transit, anti-Sound Transit, or anti any of this; we would like to see the statute be constitutional. And that’s the settlement we got,” he said.

Officials with Sound Transit say they have received the settlement offer and say they are confident in their legal position, but did not comment further or say whether they're willing to accept the settlement proposal.