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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

October 15, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Muni League recommends “no” vote on Seattle bus funds

The Municipal League of King County suggests a “no” vote on Seattle’s Proposition 1, which would raise sales taxes and car-tab fees to pay for more city bus service.

The measure amounts to “something close to a blank check,” the League says.  Its statement criticized the shifting nature of the campaign — first to save doomed King County Metro Transit lines, now to add service and frequency. “But given the sparse text of Proposition 1 and the lack of clarity on what specific service Proposition 1 would be used to fund, voters do not have a clear understanding of what they are voting to approve,” the group says.

Also, the League recommends a “no” vote on the Seattle monorail-planning measure, Citizen Petition No. 1, organized by Magnolia activist Elizabeth Campbell. The League says creating another transportation planning agency would be “a poor use of taxpayer dollars.”  If approved, the measure calls for a $5 annual car-tab fee.

The Muni League has no financial or ideological ties to political campaigns.  It conducted an in-depth review of Metro budgets in 2013, and this spring gave reluctant support to a countywide transit-and-roads measure.

In the last few weeks, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has devised a strategy for using bus funds that would become available if voters say “yes,” starting with lines that Metro has measured as overcrowded. That leaves most of the money to be applied toward SDOT director Scott Kubly’s goal of all-day, frequent crosstown service.  Metro expected to make deep cuts in 2015-16, but the King County Council tabled those based on a more-optimistic view of future reserve funds – creating a potential windfall in Seattle.

Proposition 1 would raise the sales tax 0.1 percent and authorize a car-tab fee of up to $60, for bus service within the city.

Sandeep Kaushik, campaign manager at Yes for Seattle Transit, said: “Circumstances have changed, and they’ve changed in a positive direction. This just reinforces the opportunity we have with this proposition, because now we can actually provide additional service, to meet the bus transit deficit, that almost everyone is in agreement we need in the city.”

As for the monorail measure, Campbell’s chief argument has been that a monorail can be delivered to serve Ballard, Interbay and West Seattle much sooner than the light-rail tunnels being studied by Sound Transit.

Comments | More in Transportation | Topics: King County Metro Transit, Monorail, Municipal League

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