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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 11, 2008 at 4:04 PM

City of Seattle budget cuts

Think again, Mr. Mayor

Once again, Mayor Greg Nickels wants to punish, instead of educate, the citizens of Seattle [“More budget cuts ahead in Seattle to meet $19M shortfall,” News, Nov. 8].

Raising parking rates downtown seems to be the wrong thing do during this economic crisis. Driving buyers from our downtown stores to the suburban malls makes no sense at all. Is this also another attempt to try to

get Seattleites out of their cars? Once again, not the way to go, Nickels.

The governing bodies of this city never seem to look beyond the end of their noses at the big picture. Do we just throw more people on the already overtaxed bus system? How about providing tax incentives for those who ride bicycles, use car pools, walk or take the bus? How about working with Metro to improve the bus system first?

Now what about budget cutting? How about starting with the endless, useless studies this city is known for, or cutting the pay of one of the most overpayed city employees in the country?

I am a small-business owner and when we are faced with a budget crunch, the first thing that gets cut back is my pay. Why can’t this principle be applied to our government as well? Squeezing more blood out of the already economically ravaged citizens of Seattle doesn’t make sense. Go back to the drawing board, Nickels, and think again — this time with a little foresight.

— Robert Sondheim, Seattle

It doesn’t add up

When will Mayor Greg Nickels and the City Council start living in the present economic reality, and when will we as Seattle residents hold our elected leaders accountable for their budgeting decisions? While it’s admirable the city is making cuts to close its funding gap, why raise parking rates? As with any tax, behavior will adjust. There will be quicker or fewer trips for shopping, eating out etc.

This not only offsets the anticipated revenue benefit; it reduces retail sales and business taxes, which account for nearly 50 percent of the city’s tax base, hitting local merchants and consumers at the worst possible time.

But more important than this economic illiteracy is the “buried lead” in the story — that the city is considering “two or three layoffs” to help close the gap. Is that a misprint? On the same day GM and Ford announce thousands more layoffs, our city leaders can come up with just two or three expendable city employees?

As taxpayers seeing property values drop and neighbors laid off, we should be asking why the city is cutting less than 1 percent ($26 million) of an $8 billion budget. And why, when we’re all cutting back our budgets, is the city’s growing nearly 15 percent?

— Stu Haas, Seattle

Don’t mess with consumerism

Addressing the Seattle city budget problems is important, but increasing the charge for parking on the streets of Seattle is not a way to increase revenue; in fact, it is a true discouragement to shoppers who will go elsewhere to buy things. The merchants will not be getting sale taxes that would go into the city coffers.

Regarding the increase of two to three layoffs to the previously proposed cuts of 10 to 12 is only going to save the city money if the positions are permanently and completely eliminated, not transferred to other city departments. When laid off, the employee should be permanently and completely removed from the payroll.

In a related matter, at the county level, $90 million could be saved by not recreating the unnecessary Mosquito Fleet, and, at the same time, eliminate the 0.25 percent sales-tax increase that was created by the County Council without any presentation to the citizens of King County. This would be a way of saving money and letting the county residents retain some money. There should be no tax, fee, surcharge, assessment, etc. imposed without the expressed and explicit approval of the voters.

— John Marthens, Normandy Park

Comments | More in Economy, Seattle City Council

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