ELECTION 2020: Here’s the Seattle Transportation Benefit District tax that’ll be on your November ballot

checkbox.jpgFrom today’s City Council meeting, late today – the plan to renew extra bus funding via the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) is officially headed to the November ballot. The six-year measure that’s expiring this year is a .1% sales tax and a car-tab fee; because of I-976, the renewal just has a sales tax. While there was a proposal to double it to .2%, councilmembers decided on .15% (that means 15 cents on every taxable $100 you spend). They also decided to keep it as a 6-year plan, though there had been a proposal to shorten it to 4 years. With the increase in the proposd tax rate, District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold proposed an amendment to increase the “emerging needs” amount expected to help pay for extra West Seattle transit while the bridge is out – that will now be a $9 million fund rather than $6 million, commensurate with the increase in the proposed tax rate. A majority of councilmembers approved that amendment; the final proposal passed unanimously.

24 Replies to "ELECTION 2020: Here's the Seattle Transportation Benefit District tax that'll be on your November ballot"

  • Duffy July 27, 2020 (6:19 pm)


  • John July 27, 2020 (6:22 pm)

    And so it begins….

  • Bette July 27, 2020 (6:56 pm)

    No new taxes, goodness, there is massive unemployment. People are hurting so let’s ask for more and more,  the council needs a reality check, food bank utilization is up, people can’t pay their rent and mortgage. Kids can’t get back to school creating family issues, we all need to live in the budgets we have till things turn around

  • TJ July 27, 2020 (8:15 pm)

    Yet you can bet it will be approved. Rants about affordability here are no match for the desire for new taxes and in this case continuing expiring ones. 

    • Will S. July 27, 2020 (11:33 pm)

      This sales tax is too small to make a difference on affordability, and the non-renewal of city car tabs means that car owners will be paying a lot less to the Seattle Transportation Benefit District. Let’s do the math: The current (expiring) city transportation sales tax rate is 0.1%. When you add that to all other state, county, city, and transit taxes, a person who makes $100 in taxable purchases will pay $10.10 in total tax. If this ballot measure passes, the total tax payment increases five cents, to $10.15. If this ballot measure fails, the total tax payment falls a whopping ten cents to $10.00, and all the people who complain about taxes now will still be complaining about taxes. Meanwhile, Seattle’s $60 car tabs will go away whether or not this ballot measure passes, because nobody is proposing to renew them.

      • Chemist July 28, 2020 (12:34 am)

        1st – the Seattle TBD on my car tab bill says $80.  It’s the $60 expiring part and a $20 portion passed by the council that SDOT doesn’t talk about much but goes to fund pothole filling and not transit so much.  2nd – That $20 portion passed by council will still be billed unless 976 is upheld.  3rd – The council can then vote among themselves to increase that car tab potion to $40 and potentially up to $50 later using council authority.

  • KBear July 27, 2020 (8:54 pm)

    I will happily vote to renew this (not new) tax at its increased rate. Transit helps everyone, even single occupant vehicle drivers.

    • Anne July 27, 2020 (9:28 pm)


    • candrewb July 28, 2020 (9:37 am)

      Thanks for doing your part to keep rents up. I know it’s not much in of itself, but every little bit helps! 

  • Millie July 27, 2020 (9:10 pm)

    The downtown business district (stores, restaurants, office buildings) are quiet to lack of business.  Large number of employers have authorized employees to work from home.  Businesses are furloughing employees, terminating employees or closing.  Optimistic economists are predicting several years for the economy to rebound.  Something doesn’t compute between “real life” and today’s Council action.  Unfortunately, I do not have a “money tree” in my backyard.   This will be a “Thanks, but NO thanks!”

  • waughtown July 27, 2020 (9:43 pm)

    Oh great!  More taxes!  Our tax burden is already staggering.  What do we have to show for it?  A poorly maintained bridge that may not be repairable!!!  I don’t care what they say, this could have been avoided with proper maintenance and planning on the part of SDOT.Here’s a novel idea for Seattle——cut spending elsewhere to bolster your transportation wish list.For those of us who can’t get to work because of the detours and traffic jams…….we need a tax break!

  • N July 27, 2020 (9:49 pm)

    Interesting time to be voting on this when many of us transit riders are not commuting and don’t have any idea when we will be again, not to mention many of us also are facing pay freezes if we still have jobs.  

  • WTF July 27, 2020 (10:05 pm)

    I hope people start paying attention! These maleficences will take advantage of every opportunity to tax us, change policy, institute sweeping changes touting it’s for the “greater good”…all while people are scared and distracted by the events going on around us.  DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THESE PEOPLE…they will always stand there with their hands out…all while chanting you must give to those who don’t have any…knowing full well they have zero accountability for the misappropriation and misspending of HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of our tax dollars!  Stop the madness. These people are dangerous.

  • Joe Z July 27, 2020 (10:16 pm)

    This is an easy yes, the more people on buses the better. Especially with extra $ coming to West Seattle if this passes.

    • Chemist July 27, 2020 (10:52 pm)

      I’m sorry for the bridge breaking at an inopportune time, but SDOT needs to provide more bus seats in West Seattle nomatter if this passes or not if they want 2x the prior ridership.  It might even require working with KC Metro to re-assign buses from a different area of the city to West Seattle routes.

    • Anne July 28, 2020 (7:17 am)

      Nope-more people on busses won’t happen until there is a  proven vaccine – why would you put your health in danger riding in a Petri dish?  Oh the busses will be “ sanitized” at the start of each day-but once the first run is done-forget it. 

  • Jon Wright July 27, 2020 (11:11 pm)

    Let the impotent screeds begin! Whether fulminating against school bonds, council incumbents, or now funding transit, the angry commenters will be out in force! I’m not sure what to make of those who are chronically opposed to paying for the things our city needs. Should we admire their tenacity for always showing up for a fight and losing decisively? Or have compassion for their insanity (doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results)?

    • Anne July 28, 2020 (7:28 am)

      How about holding government accountable with the money they do get?? How about SPECIFIC plans for where the money is going- not some vague statement like -“ more transit for WS while bridge is out” sound great-but what does that look like? Busses-where to-how many?  Water Taxi( King County  run though).  Shuttles of some kind?  These have been talked about – but now they’re asking for money- so how about specifics. Besides-wouldn’t worry – this city votes yes on most everything -accountability isn’t a priority-well except for Police-then accountability is #1. 

      • Duffy July 28, 2020 (8:30 am)

        There is rarely a plan. But the end result is the same;- wild spending- large amounts of city employees who make well north of 100K salaries- roads crumble, bridges break, homeless population grows.- pass more taxes…wash, rinse, repeat.

    • John July 28, 2020 (4:14 pm)

      Like voting in tax increases over and over and expecting better results?

  • Nigel July 28, 2020 (11:29 am)

    This tax should be eliminated. It should have never been brought forward for consideration by the city Council. This tax is a regressive tax. The progressive city Council has said that regressive tax burdens should be removed from the working class. The progressive city council has said that once progressive tax streams are created that they would remove the oppressive burden of regressive taxes on the working class. The progressive city council has enacted a high-earner employment tax on select companies. The collected revenue is more than enough to cover this needed transportation funding. Additionally, the progressive city council has advocated re-allocating 50% of the police budget into investments in neighborhoods. These relocated funds are more than enough to cover this needed transportation funding. Either the city council is truly progressive and eliminates regressive taxes or they are endlessly money grabbing hypocrites. Vote to eliminate regressive taxes!!!

    • 1994 July 28, 2020 (10:58 pm)

      Nigel has logical thinking. The illogical city council members, aka endlessly money grabbing hypocrites, should take note of Nigel’s comments.

  • M July 28, 2020 (5:21 pm)

    Yes, this is a regressive tax, but I’ll support it anyway. I love me some rants about the ideal world we don’t yet live in, but in the meantime – How about we support a state income tax and get that passed…. and only then criticize this tiny new transit tax…. its what we need now and one of the few tools available.   You can’t just be against stuff – you have to be for ways to do it properly as well.

  • anonyme July 29, 2020 (8:57 am)

    My neighborhood has no transit service at all during the daytime and on weekends.  This has become a common scare tactic employed by Metro every time a
    levy is due to expire: they start cutting service and making dire threats about the future.   When the levy passes (as they always do), they make what appear to be additions to service, but they are not.  Other routes are cut instead.  Currently, Metro is fare-free, and I’ve seen hints on their website that they intend to make this permanent.  As long as they continue to demonstrate such a complete failure of judgment I will not vote for any new taxes.  It also seems odd that a one-month bus pass costs more than an annual car tab.

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