With focus on equity and access, here’s the book on Seattle’s $200M+ library levy proposal

The Seattle City Council will hold a public hearing Thursday evening on Mayor Jenny Durkan’s plan for hiking the Seattle Public Library levy up to over $213.3 million in property taxes over the next seven years.

The new proposal, which first needs to be approved — and possibly modified — by the City Council before before voters get to weigh in in early August, would replace the city’s 2012 levy of $123 million, which was fairly easily approved by voters and expires at the end of this year.

“While Seattle’s voters have historically supported our library system, I don’t take their support for granted,” said  Debora Juarez, who chairs the council’s Select Committee on the Library Levy.

The money under the mayor’s plan would increase access to all of the Seattle Public Library’s 26 branches, sustain and raise investments in technology, expand literature purchases, and continue maintenance. Continue reading

3,000 down, 17,000 to go? Mayor proposes $290 million Seattle Housing Levy

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 6.06.29 PMMayor Ed Murray introduced his proposal Wednesday for a doubling of the Seattle Housing Levy to create a $290 million pool “to preserve and produce affordable housing” as the city moves forward on its goal to create 20,000 affordable units by 2025.

“Expanding the Housing Levy is the most important thing we will do this year to support affordability in Seattle,” Murray said in the plan’s announcement. “We know what works – build more affordable homes for low-income families, preserve the affordable housing we have, and keep people from falling into homelessness – and we must renew our commitment and expand the levy so we can do even more.”

A community meeting on the proposal will be held on Capitol Hill later this month. The levy could go to voters as early as August.

CHS reported on the mayor’s levy plans in January as officials responded to the growing Seattle homelessness crisis with calls for more funding. District 3 rep Kshama Sawant has called on City Hall “to allocate $10 million for additional shelter beds” immediately, a call that has — so far — gone unheeded. Sawant also last week repeated her calls for Seattle to move forward with rent control and using the city’s “bonding capacity” to build affordable housing.

Wednesday’s announcement will bring a new 7-year ballot measure to Seattle voters later this year:

Responding to a broad range of affordability needs in Seattle, Mayor Murray’s initial 2016 Housing Levy proposal will produce affordable housing for seniors, people with disabilities, low-wage workers, and people experiencing homelessness. The Levy also provides funding for homelessness prevention and homeownership assistance. The program areas include:

  • Rental Production and Preservation ($201 million capital funding; $39 million operating funding):The Levy proposal will produce and preserve 2,150 apartments affordable for at least 50 years, and reinvest in 350 existing affordable apartments. The proposal also provides operating funds to supplement tenant-paid rent in 475 apartments serving extremely low-income residents. Continue reading