Unless our City Council makes bold changes this June, many believe the biggest THREAT TO EXPANDING EDUCATION AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING is the sticker-shocking $930 million “Move Seattle” Transportation Levy.
While political polls indicate Seattle voters have the appetite for another big tax (even after the expensive Parks Levy), the polls did NOT gauge voter willingness to fund the cumulative amount of taxes coming in 2015 and 2016:
- Nov 2015: Early Education and Health “Best Starts for Kids” (new from King County)
- Feb 2016: Schools — Building/Technology/Academics “BTA” (expansion)
- Feb 2016: Schools — Operations Levy (expansion)
- Aug or Nov 2016: Seattle Housing Levy (expansion)
- As early as 2018, we need to renew both the Seattle Preschool Program and Families & Education Levy).
Another flaw with the political polls: it’s not clear that all renters (residential and neighborhood businesses) understand that these levies on “property owners” are routinely transferred to them as increased rent.
Many believe it’s high time for City Hall leaders to prioritize and economize. But instead of reducing the proposed tax rate as assessed values rose, City Hall chose to increase the spending by $30 million from $900 million to $930 million. To put that cost into perspective, the nationally-recognized Seattle Preschool Program will fund only $14 million per year. When parents run into waiting lists for their preschoolers this fall, many will question City Hall’s priorities. But by then it will be too late because the City Council will have already placed the $930 million transportation levy on the ballot.
TO DO: CLICK HERE for a list of the $930 million in transportation projects (many of which are new, rather than fixing our current roads and bridges) and see how easy it is for you to find at least $100 to $200 million in non-urgent items to trim.
If City leaders had the courage to cut the cost from $930 to $730 million, the City could pay for 50% ($365 million) by renewing the existing transportation levy and fund the other 50% from an array of other sources. So far, only Councilmember Nick Licata has had the courage to propose alternatives, including Impact Fees on for-profit real estate developers (which can also fund schools and fire stations.)
Those who want to spend the full $930 million say, “There is a back-log of $1.8 billion” in road maintenance. That’s true, but why does over $200 million of the $930 million NOT address the backlog? What will be done differently this time to repair roads more efficiently? How will results be tracked and communicated? Who will be held accountable this time? And, as the Seattle Times pointed out, why does “Move Seattle” not tackle traffic congestion?
To contact city officials about the proposed Move Seattle Levy, anyone can send an e-mail to email@example.com. For guidance on how to write an effective e-mail to your city officials, CLICK HERE. Residents can also attend a public hearing Tuesday, June 2 at 5:30 at City Hall and sign-up for e-mail updates from SDOT.
PREVIOUS MONTH’S ISSUE: City Transportation Tax Doubling?