Looks like “Plan B” has an uphill battle ahead. Proposition 1 which would authorize a 0.1% increase in sales tax plus an annual $60 car tab fee replacing a fee that expires this summer to help fund Metro and roads in King County is off to a rocky start in the first count of ballots in the April election released Tuesday night.
CHS wrote here about the potential cutbacks faced by Metro — including the lopping off of several Capitol Hill-area routes — if the proposition should be rejected by county voters.
Early counts in the by-mail elections have typically left more progressive issues and candidates underrepresented for a variety of reasons including the busy lifestyles of younger voters. Seattle’s bus riders had better hope that trend plays out strongly on this one.
The Seattle Transit Blog reports that Yes on Prop 1 sources inside the campaign had said they would be comfortable with a 55-45 no-yes split on Election Night given the way they expect subsequent tallies to play out.
UPDATE: A group calling itself Friends of Transit has announced it will begin work to get an initiative on the November ballot that 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.”
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.
2014’s fall vote could be a big one for some of the more important civic issues in Seattle. Organizers pushing for a $15 minimum wage in the city are preparing for a charter amendment vote on the issue if City Hall fails to make progress on income inequality this spring.
Below, you’ll find the latest Metro plans for route cutbacks and eliminations.