Council considers two Metro funding plans, both include sending $60 car tab to ballot

In an effort to buy back $45 million in Metro bus services, the Seattle City Council will be considering two competing plans on Thursday. Both would include sending a $60 vehicle licensing fee to the ballot in November.

The first plan, proposed by Mayor Ed Murray in May, is basically a local version of Proposition 1 which Eastside and rural King County voters torpedoed in April. The plan would raise sales taxes by .1% and add a $60 vehicle licensing fee in Seattle — a plan that would likely win voter approval in November.

Over 66% of Seattle voters approved Proposition 1 and nearly 80% of voters in Capitol Hill’s 43rd legislative district approved the measure, which included road funding that Murray’s plan leaves out.

A more progressive plan proposed by council members Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata seeks to replace the sales tax increase with an annual $18 employee head count tax and increasing the tax paid by commercial parking lot operators from 12.5% to 17.5%. Small businesses would be exempt from the employee tax. The combined revenue sources would generate an estimated $21 million annually, the same amount Murray’s sales tax hike would generate.

If the Transportation Benefit District board, which is comprised of all council members, approves the Licata-Sawant plan then only the $60 car tab would go to the ballot in November. The council would then vote on the employee head count tax and parking lot tax increase.

The Licata-Sawant plan would also prevent the first round of Metro cuts scheduled for Septemeber, which would scrap 30 routes, including the the 47 along Summit/Bellevue, and reduce service for 12 others none that directly serve Capitol Hill. Licata and Sawant made a case for their proposal in a June op-ed in the Puget Sound Business Journal:

Elected officials have a responsibility to fight for progressive revenue options whenever possible. Ultimately, we must build support for measures such as taxing the super-rich and ensuring that big business pays a share commensurate with its high private profit rates.

There are no proposed Metro fare hikes as part of either funding plan as Metro fares are scheduled to increase 25 cents across the board in March. Metro fares have nearly doubled since 2008.

If council members do not take action on Thursday, another meeting is scheduled for July 17th.

10 thoughts on “Council considers two Metro funding plans, both include sending $60 car tab to ballot

  1. No September cuts that would directly affect Capitol Hill? I believe the Summit bus line has been slated for elimination this September. I’d be happy to learn I’m wrong.

  2. My question on this local to Seattle car tab hike is this: ARE there enough cars in Seattle to actually make any tangible difference to the Metro funding shortfall? I can understand where, county-wide, it may have had enough of a financial impact, but since there are much fewer car owners in Seattle compared to outer lying areas, I can’t see this being much of a help.

        • My son is a student, I’m disabled and my other son just got laid off – and we’re supposed to pay 180 bucks between us. ‘Salright I suppose, my kids don’t need new school clothes (no, $60 doesn’t buy squat for a CH hipster, but we can get 3 pair of pants for my kids out of it), I can get by with less electricity & my son can always hack secured PDFs instead of buying college books. Congrats on an idea that charges a family of 5 living on 30k with a 20-YO Ford the same as a CH hipster and his 50k Boxster. I can see how poor folks make Seattle look bad, so you would want to get rid of us. 60 bucks won’t make us move outta Seattle – but the NEXT new tax, or the automatic increases after that – may. Nothing worse than forcing Progressives into Tim Eymans camp. Or maybe that was the objective all along…

  3. I don’t think it’s a good idea to raise the tax paid by parking lot owners. They will just pass on the extra cost to customers, and parking prices are already crazy high.

  4. Metro is almost at bad as SCL when it comes to wasted costs. Is the ridership there to support as many lines as they have now? Maybe not. Alternatively we should have the right to look into Metro’s books and see exactly where the money is being spent? Do bus drivers make 100K a year? What do the mechanics make? How much is spent on overtime? What is spent on labor for down time buses? Where is fuel purchased – is it at market rate? It’s a subsitized transit company – open up the books and lets see where we can cut 5-10 million a year.
    Additionally (I know I am going to get crap for this), but would it be the worst thing in the world to take out 1/3 of the bus stops and make us lazy americans walk a 1/2 mile to a stop? I cannot believe along some of these streets where there is a stop every 250yards. According to doctors about 1/2 of us need a little more walking each day anyhow. Less stops speeds up routes allowing you to spread out buses… if you can improve this by 20%, you can cut back on alot of drivers / hours / buses being used.

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