Even before the second vote count comes out this afternoon for Metro/roads-money measure Proposition 1, a new ballot measure is in the works, says a group calling itself Friends of Transit, seeking a property-tax increase to be used only for bus service inside the Seattle city limits. The announcement received via e-mail:
Friends of Transit today announced it will file an initiative for the November 2014 ballot that would save bus service within Seattle city limits. The measure could raise up to $25 million a year for the next six years, enough to reverse most cuts to King County Metro routes that serve Seattle.
“Seattle will grind to a halt if we don’t act fast to save buses,” said Ben Schiendelman, founder of Friends of Transit and proponent of the ballot measure. “Seattle voters want better transit. We will not rest until we have reversed these cuts and begun making the investments we need to provide Seattle with the transit system it deserves.”
“The pending Metro bus cuts will cause my neighborhood to lose one of our core routes, the Route 73. It also means that my 16 year-old son will be making a hour trek home from high school because the bus he rides will no longer go to our neighborhood. I am a single-income homeowner and I am careful with my money and I am in complete support of a City of Seattle property tax measure that will fund Metro bus service. Convenient, regular, safe bus service is essential to a healthy economy and a healthy community,” said Renee Staton, homeowner, mother, and Pinehurst Community Council member.
“Proposition 1’s failure will greatly harm the entire Seattle metro region. Overloaded buses will pass people by, making them late for everything due to incredibly congested roads as people with the option to drive may abandon the bus system. For West Seattle, with very limited access points and already overburdened roads and buses, our bridge commutes will be devastated – whether you drive a car or ride the bus. We need a reliable and fair transit funding solution before it’s too late,” said Joe Szilagyi, West Seattle resident.
The proposed initiative would increase the city’s property tax by $0.22 per $1,000 of assessed value between 2015 and 2021. The measure is estimated to generate $25 million a year in revenue, enough to fund as much as 250,000 hours of bus service. This funding would help stave off cuts to routes operating completely within Seattle, and may help reduce cuts to routes operating between Seattle and other cities. The property tax increase requires a simple majority vote for approval.
Revenues would be collected by the City of Seattle and used to purchase service from King County Metro. Seattle currently buys approximately 45,000 hours of bus service from Metro using revenues generated by the Bridging the Gap property tax levy, approved by voters in 2006.
The initiative will be filed by the end of the week. Once filed, it will be made available to the media and to the public.
You can also watch for it in the right sidebar here, once it’s filed.
5:04 PM NOTE: In comments, Joe Szilagyi (the West Seattleite quoted in the news release above) points to the legislative-district breakout of first-night results, noting that the Seattle districts voted for Prop 1.
Districts 36 and 37 voted 63 percent yes, 37 percent no on night 1. District 43 voted 78 percent yes, 22 percent no. The 34th District, which includes West Seattle but also outside-the-city White Center and Vashon Island, went 51 percent yes, 49 percent no. Three other districts that are part city, part suburb, were the 46th – 59 percent yes, 41 percent no; the 11th, 31 percent yes, 69 percent no; and the 32nd, 52 percent no, 48 percent yes. (If we’re missing any in-city district, please advise; this is the best we could do via squinting at maps.)