Newest Metro-money proposal: Parking tax and ‘head tax’

May 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 73 Comments

(Added: Seattle Channel video of the Sawant/Licata announcement)
Two Seattle City Councilmembers say they have a different idea for raising tax money to avoid Metro Transit cuts. Less than a week after Mayor Murray unveiled his sales-tax/car-tab-tax plan, Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant have just announced that they are asking city staff to draft a proposal to raise money through a commercial-parking tax and the return of the so-called “head tax,” repealed in 2009 amid claims it hampered job growth. Those taxes could be imposed by a council vote. (They’re among the alternatives listed in the online poll the West Seattle Transportation Coalition is running until tomorrow; parking tax is currently the top vote-getter, head tax second from last.) They would not fully replace Murray’s proposal, though, reports The Seattle Times (WSB partner); they would replace the proposed sales-tax increase, but a car-tab tax would still go to voters. Here’s the official Licata/Sawant announcement:

Councilmember Nick Licata and Councilmember Kshama Sawant and individuals representing working people, elderly, disabled, students, and people of color announced their plan today to address proposed cuts to Seattle Metro bus service. The proposed plan would use a Commercial Parking Tax increase and an Employer Head Tax to prevent devastating cuts to transit.

With the failure of Proposition 1 on April 22, King County Metro will implement the first of four planned rounds of bus service cuts. If all of these cuts happen, 16% of bus service, or 550,000 annual service hours, will disappear.

“If approved by Council, the Mayor’s proposal will go to the ballot in November, but not in time to prevent the first round of cuts. These initial cuts, and the funding that would kick in if ‘Plan C’ were approved, places a burden on poor and working people,” said Licata. “There are other options, and they are options that don’t expose our most vulnerable populations to more regressive taxation. The City Council has the ability to implement an Employer’s Head Tax and increase the commercial parking tax to fund public transportation,” Licata added. “If the City Council moves on this, we can prevent devastating cuts. I have asked our policy staff to research exactly how much revenue could be raised through these means, and to begin drafting legislation to introduce to the City Council.”

During the past 25 years, Metro has increased its reliance on regressive taxation five times through raising the sales tax and Vehicle Licensing Fees. In addition, fares have also been raised four times in the past six years, with another proposed increase in 2015. Sales tax has proven to be an unstable revenue source: the dot-com crash in 2001 reduced sales tax revenue and forced Metro to scale back plans to increase service, and in 2009 Metro lost more than 15% of its sales tax base due to the recession.

“A functioning transportation system is critical to the working people who make Seattle and the wider region run. The ongoing cuts to Metro disproportionately affect low-wage workers, the elderly, the disabled, and people of color,” said Sawant. “As a regular bus rider, I stand with all the commuters in King County who are opposed to the looming cuts to these services. I am also in solidarity with Metro workers who are threatened with layoffs and a proposed wage freeze. Seattle’s poor and working people not only need the service to be maintained, they need a world-class mass transit system for this city to remain livable for them,” Sawant added.

“I support the most equitable and least burdensome revenue source(s) on lower income users when considering the critical funding for our Metro bus system,” said Rev. Paul Benz, Faith Action Network.

“Working people should refuse to accept that increasingly regressive taxation is the best we can do,” said Philip Locker, Social Alternative. “The only reason that no progressive funding options currently exist is because there is a lack of political will at the state, county and city level. Local elected officials have an obligation to fight to stop regressive taxation and to implement policies such as taxing big business and the super-wealthy, ending direct and indirect subsidies to large real estate developers, capping excessive government executive salaries, and ending corporate handouts to generate the revenue necessary to fully fund and expand mass transit.”

“With the findings recently published in the Third National Climate Assessment, it is clear that the US is already experiencing serious effects of climate change. The City of Seattle has the responsibility to act decisively to reduce our carbon impact on the environment,” said Jess Spear, 15 Now. “Maintaining and expanding public transportation has proven to be an effective strategy for reducing emissions and combating climate change.”

“We must organize and build our forces until we can wage an effective fight for new public transit funding and progressive taxation in Olympia,” said Katie Wilson, Transit Riders Union. “Until then we will continue to be driven by the logic of artificial scarcity, cornered into the false choices of austerity: Service cuts or regressive taxes?”

ADDED 5:59 PM: Councilmember Licata has written more about this on his website.

73 Comments

  1. “I support the most equitable and least burdensome revenue source(s) on lower income users”.

    Right. Whatever.

    PAY TO USE. That is fair. It is a fair as you can get. You use it, you pay for it.

    Comment by Ray — 2:23 pm May 19, 2014 #

  2. Fares have been raised four times in the past six years with another increase planned in 2015…that’s disheartening to read. Very similar to Parks & Rec pool fee increases (it’s gone from $2.75 up to $5.25/swim in the last eight years I bet), which leaves me less impressed with management for services I find important. Work with what you got, I say. I somehow get by with just a 2-3% annual salary increase at my job while my rent went up 8% this year…don’t even get me started on increases for health insurance, food, gas, and other necessities. Figure it out King County, the rest of us are.

    Comment by CMP — 2:24 pm May 19, 2014 #

  3. Ray,

    PAY TO USE? Where does this end? Only with specifically Metro transportation? Do you want to do a calculation on what it will cost you to call the Fire Department in order to figure out if your house is worth saving when on fire?

    How about toll roads based on actual usage with your vehicle. Not just on highways, but on all community funded roads?

    These are just two examples of how we are all not directly “paying for what we use”. There would be many more that we could choose to look at.

    Are you advocating these other usage fees in all their forms to promote your view of fairness? Or does it begin and end with Metro?

    Thanks in advance Ray for your clarification.

    Comment by James — 2:44 pm May 19, 2014 #

  4. I applaud Councilmembers Sawant and Licata for being open minded enough to pursue other funding options!

    Comment by AmandaKH — 2:49 pm May 19, 2014 #

  5. All of the options listed in that poll place the most substantial degree of support for Metro on non-Metro users. None of these options are equitable. A far better solution would be to implement a state-wide income tax, wholly rescind the sales tax (and prevent local governments from creating their own) and fully-fund bus service just as other infrastructure is funded. Problem solved.

    Comment by KeithR — 3:07 pm May 19, 2014 #

  6. It ends when we say it ends. I for one am tired for paying more and more for less and less. At some point we all have to say enough is enough. We cannot just keep raising taxes, issuing bonds, etc just because an idea sounds or feels nice. We need to live smarter and within our means.

    And pay to use makes a lot of sense. If a business makes less than it spends, it fails. Same should be true for public transportation. I understand there will always be public subsidies of this system, but at 80%, that is unreasonable by any stretch whatsoever.

    Comment by Ray — 3:27 pm May 19, 2014 #

  7. I’d like to see a tax on ‘armchair experts’, people who have strong opinions based on minimal expertise and facts. There’s lots of $ to be found there.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 4:04 pm May 19, 2014 #

  8. @Ray “If a business makes less than it spends, it fails. Same should be true for public transportation.”
    .
    Should we hold police, fire, EMS, and schools to that same standard? How about Harborview Medical Center? The US military and coast guard? They don’t turn a profit either.
    .
    “pay to use makes a lot of sense.”
    .
    Are you willing to pay 100% of the cost of roads for your car? Cars are VASTLY subsidized. Are you willing to pay up to 50% more in gas and auto registration costs to pay your fair share?
    .
    http://usa.streetsblog.org/2013/01/23/drivers-cover-just-51-percent-of-u-s-road-spending/
    .

    Comment by What about police & Fire? — 4:09 pm May 19, 2014 #

  9. KeithR, I agree that Washington state ought to have an income tax to replace many or all of the the inefficient and regressive taxation schemes we currently use in this state. But I can’t see our bitterly divided legislature ever doing something that forward-looking or sensible.

    As for the Sawant-Licata proposal, it’s hard for me to get past their rhetoric and that of the other political groups quoted in their news release. Stick it to businesses and the middle class. Right on, brother!

    Comment by onion — 4:11 pm May 19, 2014 #

  10. No car tab tax.

    Comment by ap — 4:25 pm May 19, 2014 #

  11. CMP “which leaves me less impressed with management for services I find important. ”
    .
    BINGO. None of the proposals put forth address management of funds and services. That is what I find most upsetting.
    “Police & Fire” I love a user-tax and support tolls and removal of all car subsidies. We are not paying the true cost of car ownership, and I would love to see use do so. Among all things involved, gas should be far more expensive.

    Comment by KM — 4:30 pm May 19, 2014 #

  12. Stick it to ‘big business’, ‘corporate handouts’, ‘real estate developers’, etc. I’m absolutely flabbergasted that Council member Sawant, a professor of economics, doesn’t realize, or at least admit, that businesses don’t pay taxes…..they collect them. The cost is passed on to the consumer. For instance, fees to developers would show up in increased housing costs and rents. She should be up front about that instead of using such phrases that would lead the ‘poor’, ‘elderly’, etc. to believe they wouldn’t have to pay.

    Comment by alkijack — 4:45 pm May 19, 2014 #

  13. OMFG!! Why don’t we spend a little bit less of that money for bikelanes – $20million a year (for 25 years) and spend some of that money on buses!

    Comment by Dan — 5:01 pm May 19, 2014 #

  14. Create a lottery with revenue going to Metro.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 5:05 pm May 19, 2014 #

  15. I wonder how long it will take for the Seattle voters get tired of Kshama Sawant. Bet she has a good chance of only one term.

    Comment by Jim Clark — 5:13 pm May 19, 2014 #

  16. Yikes. This is where the tax-and-spend “philosophy” of governing leads us. Throw more good money after bad without the least concern as to how the old good money went bad. I’m not even talking about Metro Transit mismanagement and waste; this goes county-wide and the proverbial buck should stop with the King County Council AND Executive. Maybe I missed it, but when was it carved in stone that the 10 aforementioned ELECTED officials can’t ferret out waste and mismanagement from OTHER county programs and funnel the savings into Metro Transit? Does anyone believe that there are NO programs in King County that are of lower priority than Metro that can’t be cut and have those funds put into Metro? It’s all a matter of priorities, and if all that anyone can think of is just taxing more and more without a conspicuous and honest effort to make government more efficient, effective and responsive to the people and with their money, then THAT is the state of affairs that needs rectifying more than any other.
    .
    Now we have this latest “genius” idea of taxing employers per employee. Am I the only one who’s heard of the concept of taxing whatever activity you want less of? Is this the best time to actually give employers an incentive to hire FEWER people? Bad enough the city “leaders” seem hell-bent on destroying entry-level jobs (if not many businesses entirely) by requiring a $15/hour wage regardless of experience or capability. Is anyone still confused about how Seattle is pricing low-income residents out of living within city limits? Add a tax here for yet more parks, a tax there for police and fire because for some reason that’s not a high enough priority to make it a core budget item, and pretty soon, well, you have Detroit. The rich folks get sick of being soaked and move themselves and their businesses out of town. The middle class then bear the brunt of the taxes, but they can’t move their businesses, so they close them down and move, or the commute to their now-moved jobs becomes too long and onerous, so they move to the suburbs, too. The poor folks can’t find work and they don’t have enough money to move, so they get on the public dole and stay there. Meanwhile the public officials legislate more pay increases for themselves, their cronies and the union bosses that keep them in office. No one keeps an eye on the bottom line, and no one cares till it all comes crashing down in bankruptcy, scandals and if there’s any luck at all involved, convictions.
    .
    Please, everyone, before we get too far to the edge of the cliff to walk back from it, STOP VOTING FOR TAX INCREASES AND ANYONE WHO PROPOSES THEM. The next time a public official comes to you with hat in hand, make him show you the independent audit that confirms that he and his fellows have done all that can be done to make the government work efficiently, and have jettisoned needless extravagances and ineffectual “feel-good” programs. Make that official show you that he knows what the core functions of government are and will propose lean and focused budgets that demonstrate that understanding. ALL governments should take a page from Pete Carroll: Always Compete. Work hard every day and don’t make excuses. Cut those who can’t get the job done find someone who can. If that seems hard or mean, trust me, the alternative, if we continue down the current road so well paved with good intentions, will be FAR worse.

    Comment by DarkHawke — 5:14 pm May 19, 2014 #

  17. so in reality, there will be no cuts of service, etc, because somehow, someway the money will be found (bled out of us…) to keep metro happy.

    .
    what was the point of the vote on prop 1 and what is the point of subsequent votes?

    Comment by flimflam — 5:19 pm May 19, 2014 #

  18. @alkijack: Come now. Just because Sawant has a degree and had a teaching position doesn’t mean she knows beans about her subject. Isn’t it obvious that she’s an avowed communist, and that her ideology has long ago overwhelmed any education about economics that conflicts with that ideology? I find the most enlightening aspect about her collaboration with Licata is that it reveals that she and the rest of the city council are actually on the same ideological page; she’s just more open about it.

    Comment by DarkHawke — 5:19 pm May 19, 2014 #

  19. didn’t Sawant want to declare eminent domain on Boeing’s land and give the land and the company to the people? sure Boeing, Amazon, Microsoft likely pay little taxes but if not for them you can kiss several hundred thousand jobs goodbye. if Seattle/Washington State do not give them the tax breaks they are looking for then another state will gladly take their business….and the jobs and revenue/tax base those jobs bring with them.

    Comment by joel — 5:29 pm May 19, 2014 #

  20. James…I think you are taking choice to the extreme in terms of comparing bus service to 911 services. taking the bus is optional. there are options on how you get to work or get around town, there are options as to where you live, there are options as to where you work. those are choices people make…when you call 911 for fire,police,ambulance….there aren’t choices there……people complain about 4 bus fare increases in 6 years or whatever the numbers are….with the budget shortfall perhaps it should be 6 increases in 6 years to make up the shortfall. the price of gas has gone up more than 6 times in the past 2 months alone….can drivers get .25 cents from every bus fare to pay for their gas? maybe that’s an initiative for November?

    Comment by joel — 5:34 pm May 19, 2014 #

  21. Why don’t they impose a monthly fee per unit of all the new residential developments in WS (and around the city) that are not required to build parking in their buildings due to being “close to a bus line”?

    Comment by Rumbles — 5:48 pm May 19, 2014 #

  22. James and “What about police & Fire”… I’m getting tired of the Police and Fire comparison in the pay for use discussion… it’s really apples and oranges. Funding for emergency services is like buying insurance… you pay for it, and hope you never need it. I’m more than happy to pay for the piece of mind in knowing that emergency help is there for myself, my family or anyone else who needs it. I don’t feel the same about Metro.
    .
    Second, since drivers pay for 51% of the cost of roads, that’s a standard I could live with for Metro users as well, and I’m sure it would solve the problem. According to Metro’s own projections, fares will cover just 27% of operating costs after the increase in 2015.
    .
    http://metro.kingcounty.gov/fares/proposed-fare-change.html
    .
    Finally, I think I. Ponder has it about right. The “armchair expert” tax would hit me hard, but it’s one I’d gladly pay!

    Comment by Craig — 5:55 pm May 19, 2014 #

  23. A quick review of the comments here on this (and every other topic related to gov’t and taxation for that matter) makes me wonder how many posters here mistook Lord of the Flies for an instructional manual for society.

    Shaking my head…

    Comment by Lt. Drubbin — 6:01 pm May 19, 2014 #

  24. Agree flimflam.

    I admittedly don’t know every detail of this ongoing issue, but I know I constantly see empty busses riding around Seattle. Most of the time there are 5 or less people on an entire bus. Why don’t they make the cuts (other than at peak times)? Seems the right answer to me.

    Comment by SaraS — 6:07 pm May 19, 2014 #

  25. NO and NO to new and increased taxes. Seattle’s mayor and city council need to dig deep for some business acumen instead of continually using the tax mantra. METRO needs to raise fares and collect fares from all passengers.

    Comment by Seattlite — 7:13 pm May 19, 2014 #

  26. DarkHawke you rock!

    Comment by Seattlite — 7:15 pm May 19, 2014 #

  27. No taxes to support Metro
    No more subsidies for a broken Business model

    RAISE THE FARES.

    Comment by Marc — 7:21 pm May 19, 2014 #

  28. The self-righteousness of the tax scolds is only matched by their ignorance of the facts, their virulent selfishness, and is topped off like hater’s sundae with a cherry represented by their lack of realistic/functional solutions to this or any other shared-resource issue you’d care to name.

    They have but one tool, the hammer of “no”. And every problem just a nail in disguise.

    Comment by Lt. Drubbin — 7:52 pm May 19, 2014 #

  29. Yes! Glad to see more movement and more leadership on this issue. If we all work together we can keep this a great place to live :)

    Comment by Happy — 8:22 pm May 19, 2014 #

  30. OMG I SAW AN EMPTY BUS ONCE! NO MORE $$ FOR METRO!

    Comment by Marcus M — 8:25 pm May 19, 2014 #

  31. yes, raise the fares on metro as long as you are willing to pay a per mile charge on your automobile use, it’s only fair. flat fee is crap. please don’t bring up the gas tax, that has been raised insignificantly over the past 15 years.
    .
    jim, sawant can be here for a long time if she wants since we are moving to district elections, she will represent her base just fine. someone needs to represent those that do not have a voice in our system.
    .
    income tax all the way.

    Comment by beef — 8:30 pm May 19, 2014 #

  32. Sawant is so full of crap. She spouts off about how she’s helping those in need, she’s not. She’s suppressing the middle class and small businesses who are the ones that actually do the most for those in need already. If she was who she markets herself to be, she’d be going directly after those that are dodging taxes in the millions and billions and not those of us who actually pay our taxes that fund her pet projects. She’s a joke. It’s pathetic my tax dollars pay her salary and the amount she donates to her socialist party buddies. I do not agree with her socialist agenda, I do not want my tax dollars being funneled into their pockets. What a scam artist.

    Comment by Mike — 8:36 pm May 19, 2014 #

  33. America’s 18 trillion dollars in debt because of people like you, Drubbin. Tax-and-spend, repeat. Tax-and-spend, repeat. Democrats (including admitted socialists like Sawant) and republicans have utterly destroyed this nation fiscally via spending and unchecked growth of government. How’s that patriot act treating you, Drubbin? How’s the NSA surveillance?

    NO more taxes. We have what, 4 or 5 special tax initiatives coming up in Seattle alone for fiscal year 2014? DarkHawke’s absolutely right, we can’t keep throwing good money after bad. These are all regressive taxes. At some point We have to say “ENOUGH!”. We have to start demanding accountability and transparency with our tax dollars. This counts from the local level, to the national level.

    People like Sawant, Drubbin, Boehner, Reid, Bush and Obama don’t care about transparency. They don’t care about accountability, and they surely don’t mind spending YOUR money. They’re more than happy to.

    Someone stated earlier btw, that Harborview is a public entity – it’s not. It’s owned/managed by the UW.

    Vote NO on all new tax measures, and vote out all incumbents until they get the point.

    Comment by ScubaFrog — 8:39 pm May 19, 2014 #

  34. ….Echo’s the DarkHawke!!

    Comment by The Hepcat — 8:53 pm May 19, 2014 #

  35. ScubaFrog you Rock!

    Comment by Seattlite — 9:05 pm May 19, 2014 #

  36. NOVEMBER 16, 2009 –”But the head tax was the wrong approach in a challenging economic climate. Businesses lamented the hassle of the paperwork in addition to the cost.

    The tax also sent a very unfriendly message to businesses that might want to locate in Seattle.”

    VOTE NO and NO 2014!!!!!!!

    Comment by Seattlite — 9:09 pm May 19, 2014 #

  37. Solid work, Scuba. I totally agree. / As for the voting options, I did not see “no tax, go soak your heads,” so I went went with the parking tax. I thought this the fairest alternative for a user-based tax that still pulls in funds from people no matter where they came from. Meaning, not just the City of Seattle. What a bunch of hooey that is. I really wanted to see “no tax, go soak your heads.”

    Comment by No, no, no. — 9:09 pm May 19, 2014 #

  38. @ScubaFrog – You are wrong about who owns Harborview Medical Center. It is owned by you and me via the taxes we both pay to King County.

    http://www.uwmedicine.org/harborview/about/

    The University of Washington administers the care and operations of Harborview Medical Center. The UW does not own the facility. And even if the UW did
    own the facility, it would still be being paid for by your tax dollars and mine.

    Comment by Ignorance Is Rampant — 9:26 pm May 19, 2014 #

  39. My grandmother, who lived through the depression, had some great advice that applies to our current funding dilemmas. When faced with our childhood pleas for toys and candy she’d say “you can’t have it all.”. We can’t have it all. We need to stick to a budget and prioritize what really matters. We cannot continue to tax and spend, tax and spend, tax and spend. I like shiny new things as much as the next person, but we cannot continue to fund every whim, wish and special interest by raising taxes. It is not sustainable.

    Perhaps transit is what really matters, but if it is, something else has to give: fire, police, education, welfare, healthcare etc. tough decisions for sure, but Sawant and Licata are not making tough decisions by relying on more taxes.

    Comment by Please — 9:38 pm May 19, 2014 #

  40. Glad to see you have it all sorted, Scuba. Let me see if I have this straight. Just the services you specifically want and want to pay for? Sounds great. What can you afford? And when can we expect your name on the ballot?

    Comment by Lt. Drubbin — 9:45 pm May 19, 2014 #

  41. Mass transit is always subsidized wherever it is. It isn’t intended to be a profit-making operation. That’s not its purpose.

    The problem here is the general funding of everything in the state. Sales taxes have to scrapped and be replaced with a progressive state income tax. Nothing else will do.

    The many multi-billionaires who live here in their gated compounds acquired their exorbitant wealth thanks, in large part, to the now-crumbling infrastructure we have including mass transit. Yet they continue to avoid paying their fair share. A good deal for those in the parasite class.

    Oregon has a state income tax and no sales tax. Car tabs are a flat $43/year. Just compare the mass transit and the condition of the roads between Seattle and Portland.

    The only tax-related issue I’ll vote for in the future will be a state income tax.

    Comment by PSPS — 10:23 pm May 19, 2014 #

  42. Today I mailed in the paperwork to dissolve my Seattle business! B&O was enough – it taxes all revenue whether I make a profit or not. It’s easier just to retire.
    .
    Ideas in order of preference: (1) Cut Metro positions and salaries; (2) Raise fares; (3) Gas tax. If you don’t like (3) then ride a bus. I can rationalize it because when people ride the bus, they reduce road wear and open up more capacity for the drivers, i.e. the car drivers benefit from bus ridership.

    Comment by Herman — 11:27 pm May 19, 2014 #

  43. @ Ignorance is Rampant: Your link doesn’t give any information about Harborview Medical Center’s financials. Shed some light on this, please (and not just in the form of links providing a small paragraph of useless drivel).

    Are you implying that we pay all of the 1000+ doctor’s salaries at Harborview via our tax dollars? Are you implying that we pay the trustees’ salaries? The thousands of nurses salaries? Is it a non-profit, or a for-profit insistution? If King County owns Harborview, where are the profits manifested? And does it mean that The People of King County get free medical care – as we’re the ‘owners’?

    I sure don’t blame you, Herman. And I’m sorry that Seattle’s forced you out. Who can possibly afford to pay their employees $15/hr? I agree wholeheartedly with your ideas btw.

    Comment by ScubaFrog — 12:53 am May 20, 2014 #

  44. a good portion of harborview’s patient’s likely do not have insurance. those bills are likely paid by the state (tax money). however with Obamacare in place aren’t we all supposed to have insurance now? so it everyone is following the law there are no uninsured people and harborview would be reimbursed for 100% of the care administered. Obamacare uses tax money to give people insurance but then the insurance companies are now responsible for the costs. State would rather give someone $1200 month for free insurance and then let the insurance take care of their $15,000 trips to the emergency room.

    Comment by joel — 7:05 am May 20, 2014 #

  45. I’ve really had it with the “I don’t use it directly so I won’t pay for it” mentality. But maybe I’ll start adopting it myself, voting against funding for schools (I have no kids) and parks (I don’t really use them) and libraries (don’t really use them) and police and fire (I’m special and I’ll never need them) and DSHS (I’m special and I’ll never need financial help) and people on disability (I’m special and I’ll never get sick or injured.)
    .
    I’ll only pay for roads in West Seattle—why should I pay for roads in Greenwood I never use?
    .
    In short, I’m just special, and I pay my own way 100%. I’m morally and financially superior to those icky government employees and tax-and-spend libruhls.
    .
    This is how silly some of you sound.

    Comment by Kayleigh — 7:36 am May 20, 2014 #

  46. Actual information about Harborview:
    .
    http://www.washington.edu/diversity/files/2013/04/Harborview_Medical_Center.pdf
    .
    It is the area’s trauma-care center so if you suffer trauma, you’ll be taken there, regardless of whether you have insurance, a doctor somewhere else, etc. We wound up there 15-plus years ago after a Medic One ride following a major fall by our then-toddler. The compassion of everyone from the Medic One crew to the hospital team was the only way we got through that (thank God, no serious injuries, but they had to do tests to check). Just a side note. I don’t believe we got a bill for the Medic One trip nor do I think we were supposed to. Our income was OK, not rich. We have not needed emergency services again and I hope never to.
    .
    TR

    Comment by WSB — 8:33 am May 20, 2014 #

  47. Joel,

    I get that you object to me using 911 services as an example. There are so many other examples of programs that we all use where we don’t pay for use. For example: Hospice. People in their last stages of terminal illness can get hospice to come and help with their pain relief and help them to stay in their homes. This service is not ‘pay for use’.

    My point was to ask Ray his position on “pay for use’ and how far it extends. He simply stated

    “PAY TO USE. That is fair. It is a fair as you can get. You use it, you pay for it.”

    He did not say what makes transit different from hospice, roads, jails, parks, or any of the other services enjoyed through the marshalling of our tax dollars.

    In all of this is a little touch of ‘there but for the grace of god, go I. All it takes is a small amount of imagination to see that individually any of us is one or two life events away from needing many of the programs that we communally fund. Major injury or illness leaving one with an inability to work, the death of a parent(s) at a young age, a child who has an addiction problem.

    I saw this happen to a mother who worked 2 jobs and had a young son. She was taken by cancer, and her son is the beneficiary of various government programs. This could be any of us (with children), even though we don’t use the programs right now, and maybe don’t forsee that it will happen to us (to echo Kayleigh above).

    Comment by James — 8:41 am May 20, 2014 #

  48. Good luck ScubaFrog, Mike and all the rest of the Tea Partiers here. I hope your Citizen Initiatives pass with flying colors.

    Comment by AmandaKH — 8:54 am May 20, 2014 #

  49. Good morning Tracy – I’m glad to know Harborview was there for your child when your family needed expert care.

    Comment by Mike Lindblom — 9:49 am May 20, 2014 #

  50. +1 to what PSPS said

    Comment by sam-c — 9:53 am May 20, 2014 #

  51. We all disagree about what should be funded (if any) by user-based-taxing vs. other taxing structures. Some draw the line at emergency services, some add parks and libraries, some schools, some want it all. No need tell others they’re wrong or how silly they sound, it’s a fundamental disagreement on how things should be managed. If it was that simple, we’d only have one party in office(s).

    Comment by KM — 10:32 am May 20, 2014 #

  52. My experience has been that the people who complain the loudest about how our evil, Machiavellian, sneaky, greedy government overloads are ruining life as we know it, are almost always hopelessly uninformed (thanks a lot Fox news) and/or not doing very well in their work or personal lives. And bitter. And rather than swallow the bitter pill of their own failings, and as a defense mechanism, they convince themselves that lazy, yet really clever and crafty, government employees are all involved in a conspiracy to make their lives miserable. “If it weren’t for that evil bus tax I would….” You would what? At the end of the day the dense wackos I’m talking about would still be paranoid, bitter and unhappy, and then go find some other target for their laughably weird, but truly mean-spirited, frustration and anger. I remember when poor people were the target. The tin foil dunce-cap crowd went full-metal crazy over poor people. No punishment was too harsh for the things poor people did to make their lives suck. The government conspiracy thing is just a variation on that particular pathology. Evil digital overlords are up next. “If only Facebook didn’t know I only have three friends…..”

    Comment by Mike — 10:46 am May 20, 2014 #

  53. KM,

    Thanks for your response. My comment was intended only to illicit the rationale behind Ray’s initial foray on this thread, where he talked about pay to use being fair.

    “PAY TO USE. That is fair. It is a fair as you can get. You use it, you pay for it.”

    I do think that it is natural that people will disagree on funding structure and the level at which individuals and businesses are required to fund collective goods. I happen to personally see more benefits to society in a stronger collectivism and social safety net. Other people are free to disagree with me. A blanket advocacy of pay for use, however, ignores current reality of how most of our goivernment provided services are delivered and paid for. It also singles out transit as pay for use over the myriad of other collective benefits that are not pay for use.

    Comment by James — 11:16 am May 20, 2014 #

  54. @ ScubaFrog – once again, no research, lots of Fox News talking points.

    For you edification, an excerpt from: “Harborview Medical Center An Overview” published by the UW.
    http://staff.washington.edu/gleep/CSIFs/F-J/Harborview%20Medical%20Center/facility%20overview.PDF

    “Harborview Medical Center is owned by the residents of King County, governed by a board of trustees appointed by the KCC, and managed by the UW.
    Harborview does not receive operating support from King County, but county taxpayers provide Harborview with funds for its major construction projects. Harborview’s operations are dependent on reimbursements from state agencies, the federal government, and third party insurance companies.”
    46% of patients are funded by state and federal Medicaid programs, 20% medicare, 28% private insurance.

    Harborview is the only Level 1 trauma center in the state, and even serves an area beyond our states borders. Portland actually has two, OHSU and Emanuel are both Level 1′s.

    And just in case you don’t think OUR tax dollars are being spent wisely – there is an average 10% drop in mortality when transferring a head-trauma patient from an emergency room to a level 1 TC. 10% LESS chance you will die because we ALL pay into

    “Vote NO on all new tax measures” – Scubafrog
    Thanks, we’ll let the kids know you care.

    “America’s 18 trillion dollars in debt because of people like you, Drubbin. Tax-and-spend, repeat.”
    - ScubaFrog

    Incorrect Fox talking point #2 Scuba – from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3036)
    “The events and policies that have pushed deficits to these high levels in the near term, however, were largely outside the new Administration’s control. If not for the tax cuts enacted during the presidency of George W. Bush that Congress did not pay for, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were initiated during that period, and the effects of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression”

    Not to mention, the deficit fell 37% in 2013 – so I guess – explain how your tax and spend fear-mongering has hurt us? Seems to be addressing EXACTLY what you complained about – the huge deficit.
    “http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/10/30/congratulations-america-your-deficit-fell-37-percent-in-2013/”

    “taking the bus is optional.”
    Comment by joel
    No, dude, it’s not – blind people need to take the bus, lots of people in wheelchairs need to take the bus, people who work downtown but can’t afford to park take the bus – it’s not optional it’s a core necessity of a functioning city economy.

    “I’m getting tired of the Police and Fire comparison in the pay for use discussion… it’s really apples and oranges. Funding for emergency services is like buying insurance… you pay for it, and hope you never need it.”
    Comment by Craig
    No, you are totally wrong, it’s nothing like that, and it’s a completely valid comparison. We pay taxes to cover the expenses of the departments including salaries, training, equipment, and public education. It’s taking part of our taxes and applying them to something akin to a ‘common good’ – in this case not having your home burn down, and your neighbors, and their neighbors…

    “No taxes to support Metro
    No more subsidies for a broken Business model
    RAISE THE FARES.”
    Comment by Marc

    This kind of gets to the heart of the complete lack of understanding by our Fox and Friends neighbors.
    Metro is not a business, it’s a public transit authority, and it’s a Government Agency. An agency, not a business.
    You can’t even say it’s a non-profit, it’s NOT A COMPANY it’s an agency.

    I think it’s safe to say Scubafrog, DarkHawke, Seattlite, simply do not understand the basics of how an economy functions, how a city like Seattle functions, and what it takes to be a productive member of a society like ours.

    You are not being overtaxed, you are being under taxed. Washington has one of the lowest tax burdens int he US.
    http://money.msn.com/taxes/10-states-with-low-tax-burdens
    #7 – we have no income tax, which negates the high sales tax and property tax.

    And why do we not have a property tax? because we have a high sales tax and a large work-force – and you want to take away their means of working – they are literally paying your way right now – the sales tax paid by the working poor is saving you from propping up the budget with an income tax.
    You want to trade a paltry $60 car tab or something along those lines for thousands in income tax.
    In my opinion, your position is either crazy or ignorant. Either way it’s definitely not helpful to anyone – yourself included.

    Comment by zark — 2:05 pm May 20, 2014 #

  55. @zark, so, any option other than yours is either crazy or ignorant and not helpful to anyone? That must make it really difficult to have a discussion with anyone that does not believe the same propaganda that you do?

    Comment by Route Irish — 3:07 pm May 20, 2014 #

  56. Those of us living on a fixed income can ill afford staying in Seattle. Metro needs to be held accountable for every dime it spends, which it has never been required to do in the past. Less stops would be a tremendous saving. There is an 8 block stretch on Thistle off 35th going west. This section has five stops. Does no one realize the cost of stopping and starting up a bus? I realize the amount may be small, but multiple that and it will count up.

    Comment by Karol — 3:35 pm May 20, 2014 #

  57. Karol, that’s a lot of stops for a small distance. Is it a really hilly area that maybe some people would have trouble with? I couldn’t tell from the map I looked at.

    I know they have removed stops before–I remember there used to be 3 stops on northbound 35th between Alaska and Avalon, which is about 4 blocks and was ridiculous. They got rid of 2 of them. There have also been “stop diets” downtown. I wonder if putting comments about these stops on the Metro web site would help?

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 5:14 pm May 20, 2014 #

  58. Thistle between California and Delridge is very hilly. Also, between Delridge and 30th, that’s the Denny/Sealth zone, and you might recall that yellow school buses stopped serving middle and high-school kids (with a few exceptions) years ago, so during particular times of day, there is a lot of ridership in that stretch. West of 35th, though, the only bus is the eastbound 22, what’s left of it, for a couple blocks.

    Comment by WSB — 5:46 pm May 20, 2014 #

  59. Zark no one’s going to read your manifesto.
    -
    Again, we have to blame the neocon democrats and republicans like zark and his/her ilk for the unending wars, and for the fact that this country is 18 trillion dollars in debt. Also – for the fact that the middle class in America is having to work 2 full-time jobs in order to survive.
    -
    We’re still paying for the King Dome, for heaven’s sake. Our great great great great grand children will be paying for the national debt. These new tax measures are all regressive in Seattle. We’re facing 4 or 5 special tax levies. People like “Zark” say these measures are for the children. I say approving these taxes will harm our children. People like Zark don’t care about the cost of living in Seattle – and by approving these new taxes, neocons like Zark, James, Mike, Drubbin, Amanda are purging the middle class from Seattle. They don’t *get that*.

    How is purging the middle class good for The Children, Seattle? How is purging the middle class good for anyone? Liberal San Francisco purged it’s middle class. Does liberal Seattle really want to follow *that* city’s example? Say NO to these regressive tax measures.

    Comment by ScubaFrog — 6:54 pm May 20, 2014 #

  60. Not sure if everyone saw this little gem of a quote.
    Licata said he hopes the City Council will enact the parking and head taxes, to raise about $21 million a year, then send to the November ballot a proposed $60 car-tab fee for transit. State codes require a citizen vote on local car fees exceeding $20.

    Comment by Jim Clark — 8:04 pm May 20, 2014 #

  61. James……there are already ample systems in place for those needing assistance to obtain for either free or at reduced cost…..they range from housing, food, medical insurance, transportation and utilities. those saying the poor….this and that they can’t afford. They have systems in place for help. BUT the majority of Seattle folk are not poor and can well afford to pay more for buses….if that is their chosen method of transportation. Just like me driving….gas goes up/i pay more….my insurance goes up/i pay more…..cost of oil change used to be $20/now I pay $45……here is just one example of a broken system and where much of the tax dollars go that are wasted. I say FIRST fix these things and then see how much money you have to pay for other services……A lady worked for me part time. for over a year she asked almost daily for full time work. Finally I had a full time job open and she moved to full time. The very next week she tells me she’s been on the Section 8 housing list and they finally called her and have housing for her. BUT now guess what? One guess and it’s an easy answer…..NOW she makes too much money for Section 8 housing. So she goes back to part time so she can get free housing. the system IS broken and needs fixed. stop that waste of money and you’ve got money for buses, parks, pre school etc.

    Comment by joel — 8:51 pm May 20, 2014 #

  62. Why does wanting to fund something basic like bus service mean getting rid of the middle class?

    Why is it that in some cities, bus and even train service is seen as a necessity , while in Seattle it’s apparently some great luxury? I’m not sure, but I’d be willing to bet that some of the larger East Coast cities aren’t constantly being threatened with reduction of their transit services, and if they were the citizens would probably be up in arms. And I don’t think fares account for the bulk of the funding there either.

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 6:13 am May 21, 2014 #

  63. Also, I believe that at least part of the reason housing in San Francisco has become so unaffordable is that they restricted how many apartments/ condos could be built, where they could be built, and how many stories they could have, They wanted to keep it somewhat as it had been before, with the result that when more people moved in there wasn’t enough housing, and landlords and people selling their homes could charge top dollar. So only the rich could afford to live there.

    Does any of this sound familiar?

    Comment by West Seattle since 1979 — 7:46 am May 21, 2014 #

  64. Scubafrog it’s not a manifesto, it’s information for misinformed Seattle conservatives like yourself. The fact that you refuse to even read it for fear of your mind being changed pretty much says it all.
    your logic is baffling and you make zero sense.

    First you said tax and spend liberals caused the deficit, so I gave you info to the contrary, you refuse to read it. Now you call me a neocon/republican because I want to tax and spend – baffling as to where you’re even coming from.

    We all know you hate “Seattle Liberalism” you complain about it constantly.

    Do you know how the middle class was created? GI bill buddy – a social program paid for by taxes. Please, post here for everyone to read, how you oppose the GI Bill and think THAT was a tax and spend waste.

    People like me are trying to grow the middle class. The way you do that is lift from the bottom. People like you think we are in some kind of war against poverty, like if someone rises to the middle class you’ll be pushed out of it. That’s nuts.

    You can’t close borders, stick your head in the sand, and hope nothing will ever change. Things change, life moves on, new processes and plans have to be enacted to deal with a new world. I know, change is scary, but it’s necessary.

    The phrase ‘a nickle holding up a dollar’ comes to mind – a tiny bit of money and effort put into lifting the bottom nets huge gains for everyone right up to the top.

    Comment by zark — 10:55 am May 21, 2014 #

  65. I can’t believe we elected this lady to the council. So sick of her socialist politics, and I’m a Democrat.

    Comment by T. — 12:15 pm May 21, 2014 #

  66. Yeah, Zark your tax hikes are hosing the middle class. And now you’re proposing 4-5 more. I find you democrats and republicans to be quite similar. You’ve both decimated the middle class. Your ultra-left msnbc talking points are as old, outdated and asinine as the looney-tune fox news talking points I hear from the whackos on the extreme right wing. Extremists on both side are bad. Partisans on both side are bad (and remarkably undereducated/ill-informed). But hey, keep voting for that “Hope and Change”, I’m sure it will come with Hillary. Or Jeb. Or never.
    -
    Scant difference between you liberals and the whacko tea partiers, Zark. They started the wars – you’ve continued them. They started the “patriot act” – you’ve continued it (and learned to love the wars/nsa/gitmo etc.). Literally the only thing that separates you Zark, from the average tea party lunatic, are gun rights, abortion, and Gay civil rights. Otherwise you’re ideologically all the same.

    Comment by ScubaFrog — 4:00 pm May 21, 2014 #

  67. Ray (1st comment) You benefit, I benefit, OUR whole community benefits.
    Even if you are not a direct consumer of mass transit, you benefit from it’s presence in our community.
    Time to accept responsibility for being a member of this community.

    You live in the state with the MOST regressive taxes in the Nation, with the bottom 20% of the income earners in our state paying nearly 17% of their pay in taxes. the top 1%? 2.8%. Nice work if you can (primarily be born into it).
    That needs to change, but the County needs to understand that filling the gaps by continually raising taxes on the lowest income workers is not economically sustainable.

    Comment by dawsonct — 5:44 pm May 21, 2014 #

  68. Regressive taxation:

    http://www.itep.org/whopays/#map

    Comment by dawsonct — 5:50 pm May 21, 2014 #

  69. Washington needs to institute a small income tax, and drastically lower the sales tax. Multiple revenue streams would help us keep a more balanced portfolio and guard against the fluctuating fortunes of our economy.

    Maybe the next time Boeing threatens to shut down a plant unless we give them another hundred million dollars, we should declare public domain and kick their rears back to Chicago and South Carolina and wherever else they now call home.
    That would save us some money (and yes, that vacuum would quickly fill).

    Comment by dawsonct — 6:09 pm May 21, 2014 #

  70. How many of you “NO TAXES EVER!!” “NOBODY IN GOVERNMENT LISTENS TO ME!!” “GUBMINT AIN’T TRANSPARENT ENOUGH!!” types ever involve yourselves in the political process in any way at all other than occasionally voting, if that?
    Have any of you ever been to a local meeting for your Party of choice?
    Canvased before an election?
    Spent time REALLY delving into the issues about which you claim to be so indignant?

    Or do you all simply hear the dog-whistle word “TAXES” and that is enough to set off your righteous indignation? Incapable of drawing distinctions between frivolity and community-wide quality of life.
    “If I don’t see an immediate positive effect that benefits myself, primarily, I am virulently opposed to anything my elected representatives to our government do with the money they are Constitutionally allowed to collect! Ha-RUMPH!!”
    Short-sighted, intellectually lazy twits.

    Comment by dawsonct — 6:33 pm May 21, 2014 #

  71. Perfect post Zark. I felt assured that the eyes of the targeted myopic parochialists would glaze over as they scrolled down to the next post.
    I sure didn’t have to wait long for one of them to proudly defend their nescience.

    Comment by dawsonct — 7:05 pm May 21, 2014 #

  72. Scuba, you seem to have identified (some of) the problem/s, but you are most certainly directing your animus in the wrong direction, missing the target completely.
    In fact, it seems like your target is mostly your fellow citizens, and not the plutocrats and oligarchs who are pulling the strings and draining our wealth.

    Comment by dawsonct — 7:18 pm May 21, 2014 #

  73. Metro bus drivers with probably a high school diploma or GED required have salaries top out at $66,000 and go higher with overtime. A state social worker required to have an MSW degree tops out at $54,500. Many state workers had to take a 3% wage cut for 3 years due to the economy. Bus drivers continued to get their COLAs. And King Co Deputies refused a wage freeze or cut so they had positions cut. Where is Metro’s sense of ‘for the greater good’? There is something here that seems to have gotten lost, public sector jobs are not to get rich, but for the greater good of society. That is why they are also called public service jobs. Certainly everyone wants to earn a decent wage but comparing the education requirements and skills to be a bus driver to an MSW social worker – something is off somewhere with the wages.

    Comment by AH neighbor — 9:33 pm May 22, 2014 #

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