Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed $930 million transportation levy made it through the City Council gauntlet relatively unscathed Tuesday. While council members added a handful of amendments to the Move Seattle plan (PDF), an amendment to slice the proposed levy by a third and replace it by other funding mechanisms failed to pass.
Council committee members unanimously advanced the bill to a full council vote on June 29th, teeing it up to appear on this year’s ballot. “A unanimous vote by the Council in committee sends a great signal to Seattle residents,” Murray said in a statement.
Murray rolled out his Move Seattle plan during a Capitol Hill event in March, calling for a roster of transportation projects to make Seattle’s streets safer and more efficient by 2024 and a property tax levy to pay for it.
Move Seattle identifies several Capitol Hill area projects to fund in the coming years, including street improvements to Madison Ave, 23rd Ave, and the Madison Bus Rapid Transit line. The plan also seeks to fund over 50 miles of new protected bike lanes and 60 miles of greenways in order to complete half of the city’s Bike Master Plan.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Council member Nick Licata introduced his plan to reduce the levy to $600 million and replace the lost funding with a mix of an increased commercial parking tax, an employee tax, transportation-related fees on development. The amendment failed on a 2-7 vote with Council member Kshama Sawant as the only other supporter.
Licata proposed an amendment that would’ve blocked funds from the levy to be used to “build or operate streetcars.” Licata said he feared leaving open the possibility of streetcar work could end up taking away from the intent of the plan.
Move Seattle doesn’t specifically fund the currently underfunded two stop extension to the First Hill Streetcar, but it could in the future. Council member Bruce Harrell, who opposed the amendment, said he supported giving future councils as much flexibility as possible.
Other council amendments included priority of funding for the Safe Routes to School initiative and bolstered accountability measures. Sawant, a candidate for the Capitol Hill-centered Council District 3, did not propose any amendments to Murray’s plan.
The cost to the typical taxpayer under Murray’s original plan was around $275 annually for the owner of a median valued home.