Despite council member rumors, there is no reimbursement for Ric - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Despite council member rumors, there is no reimbursement for Richland car tab fees

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RICHLAND, WA - Despite what you may have heard, low-income Richland residents won't be getting a refund for the $20 car tab fee increase to help pay for the Duportail Bridge Project and other maintenance throughout the city.

It all started with this interview:

"I made sure there was language in the resolution that if you are at 100 percent of the poverty level, you can apply for a refund for your car tab," said Richland City Councilwoman Dori Luzzo-Gilmour. "If twenty dollars is really going to affect you that much, you can apply for a refund from the City of Richland."

This interview was conducted on July 24 by local journalist Leo Perales. Perales told our reporter Rex Carlin a couple weeks ago that Luzzo-Gilmour called him, telling him she misspoke during the interview.

At that time she referenced Benton-Franklin Community Action Connections' Helping Hands Program, which she claimed would reimburse the car tab fees if you are a low-income Richland resident. She talked about this reimbursement plan with Rex Carlin just last night, and has referenced it in previous city council meetings.

"Information presented to us was that a rebate program run by us is not financially equitable, so another solution was this organization that was presented to us," Luzzo-Gilmour said.

But...Community Action Connections told Rex there is no contract with the City of Richland to reimburse for car tab fees.

When Rex spoke with Councilman Phillip Lemley, he put it this way.

"Is that an option with CAC? No," Lemley said. "At this point, I'm not aware of any option that they would take over this as far as rebating money because it would be very costly, as it would be costly for us to do that. There's nothing in our plans right now to do that, other than what I said about utility bills. They help people who need help for utility bills and things like that but not for the car tabs. So as of right now, there isn't an option to reimburse. As of this moment, not from the City and not from CAC. I'm not saying that that would not happen at some point or could not happen, but at this point, no."

Lemley was communicating back and forth with the CAC and says the miscommunication among council members surrounding the Helping Hands Program might be his fault.

"The issue of the confusion is maybe I didn't relate that back to the council in time or on a timely basis, but they do not do that," said Lemley. "But as far as we're concerned, the City of Richland, we do that for utility bills, but not for the car tab."

The bottom line is that there is no agency, no group that will reimburse you for the car tab fees in the City of Richland funding the Duportail Bridge and other projects.

To learn more about the car tab fees, click here.

To learn more about Councilwoman Dori Luzzo-Gilmour's 2 years' delinquent taxes, click here.