The Mayor Wants You to Fund a Huge Property Tax Levy for Transportation. Here’s What It’ll Buy.

Comments

1
No.
2
you want a street to your house, YOU build it! freedom!
3
The city does need the revenue for such improvements, however. Better as a sales tax so liberals pay their fair share.
4
A "yes" vote on this is a no-brainer!
5
eh. I guess?
6
spend it on road improvements for cars, adding lanes, and downtown parking. I'll gladly vote yes to that.
7
@6- "spend it on road improvements for cars,"

they are,

"adding lanes"

Which building do we demolish to do that?

"and downtown parking."

Again, what do we demolish?.
8
"That’s a substantial jump that will likely be passed down to renters too"

I don't get this part. As a multifamily landlord in Seattle, my apartment rents are determined purely by the prevailing market rent. A measure like this would have no impact -- other than perhaps in the long run making Seattle more desirable and increasing the value of a Seattle rental over equivalents in Kirkland/Bellevue/Redmond/etc.

If my expenses go up $200/month and I raise my rent to $200/month above the market price, my tenants would simply move out (perhaps to Redmond or Bellevue) and I would have a vacant property.

So how exactly would this get passed along to tenants?

9
They won me over with the Graham Street Station.
10
No, tax the developers and companies that are in Seattle.
11
Jesus Christ, yes let's set up another property tax ballot measure to bleed Seattle's dwindling middle class that's already hanging by a thread. And before you jump down my throat about unaffordable house prices, keep in mind that the current ridiculous property values are a very recent phenomenon. Most Seattle homeowners wouldn't be able to buy in today's market, by which I mean they are not wealthy and are getting squeezed like the rest of us.

We all need this, but everyone should pay for it. That means developers, businesses, bike and bus commuters..everyone. I'd support a blended tax increase to fund this plan, but not the proposed plan.
12
@10
This is for maintenance and improvements to critical infrastructure. We are going to need a bunch of money to do it, and it needs to be a regular income. Developer fees aren't a good fit for that. What if they are building less in 10 years? We dont have enough money for the roads?
13
no new local taxes until we get a state fucking income tax
14
Like most Seattle property owners I'll vote for this while the suburban car drivers whine like babies
15
Non-property owners can think of it this way: Having such property taxes equals the amount of two to four additional mortgage payments per year.
16
@12 it's just fucking study that we have some of the riches people/companies and we need to do shit like this. Get the 1% to pay their fair share instead of bleeding this town dry.
17
*stupid
18
@13: I agree.
19
Following the logic expressed by the city's policy of unpainted crosswalks being better than painted ones:
It's important that the bike lanes drop off at intersections so that cyclists don't have some false sense of safety on our roads. Some cyclists already feel safe enough with our current infrastructure to have a policy of not wearing helmets at all.
20
These are excellent ideas, many of them long overdue. It's already got my vote.
21
What's with this "up to" business re the volume of improvements that will be funded? What are the corresponding "no less than" numbers?
22
@8 I forgot how you landlords were cutting rents in Seattle. Seriously, you expect any of us to believe you're a landlord? Now go back to your Bellevue basement and your Seattle Times comment section where you crawled out of/
23
"That’s a substantial jump that will likely be passed down to renters too, but the city is pitching it as an affordability measure because, they say, increasing the efficiency of transportation will cut costs for residents who now spend about 17 percent of their expenses on transportation."

I'd vote for this because we need to do most of this stuff, and the priorities and focus are pretty reasonable. But this spin is complete bullshit.
24
@8 - What kind of apartments are you renting that this tax will increase your costs 200 bucks per unit? By my reckoning, that would mean the apartments in your building are worth about a million bucks a pop. People living in places like that aren't going to move to Renton over 200 bucks a year.

I mean, its obvious that these costs will get passed on to renters. Where else is a landlord supposed to get the money to pay the expenses. This only means that property taxes are distributed over everybody who lives in a building. Seems fair as anything.
25
I would be happy to visit Seattle for the express purpose of having coffee with Scott Kubly, if it meant getting a coherent explanation of what has happened with the DC streetcar project that he launched.

The line is entirely built out, and there have been streetcars operating on it for months. But they haven't carried a single passenger — and they never may because the entire thing might actually be scrapped, with the only result the ruination of H Street NE for biking by putting never-used rails into the pavement.

Bloomberg View's Megan McArdle put it best a couple of days ago:
In my eight years in Washington, I have come to love its fabled streetcar project. I say "fabled" because as of this writing, we do not actually have any streetcars. No, wait, that's wrong. We totally have streetcars. What we do not have are streetcars that actually ferry passengers hither and yon, rather than sitting in storage or going on endless test runs that all too frequently end in flames. The project has been hilariously mismanaged from start to (never-never) finish, though it would be a lot more hilarious if we hadn't spent millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars on it.
So Kubly was in charge of that, and now he's overseeing a streetcar project there? How's that going?
26
As long as the City can afford a 'gender justice' department I can only assume they've already got too much money.
27
Oh, and when a homocide officee u s assigned to an unsolvable garden variety assault? Yeo, that's a city with no cash flow problems.
28
Or the City could pass an income tax on high wage earners. And yes it would be challenged in the courts. And the courts might finally throw out that stupid 1930s income tax decision that is strangling the state.
29
@11 agree so much. we need a fair tax. there are middle class people who cannot afford more and more property taxes. the value of their property has gone up, but they are still making the same amount of money. we need some property tax, but we need tax on earnings, and capital gains, and maybe, if you want to get in on these crazy housing values, a new tax levied and properties sold (though i know that last one is a crazy idea).
30
@24, "I mean, its obvious that these costs will get passed on to renters. Where else is a landlord supposed to get the money to pay the expenses"
or perhaps the landlord pushes out their "profit" phase a bit longer. Does rent suddenly decrease after a landlord finishes paying off the property's mortgage ?
31
@28

Because "high earners" use traffic infrastructure more? Nope, not that.... So why is asking one tiny percent of road users to pay for the others 'fair' exactly? I mean, apart from your envy of them?
I actually think an income tax, while unfair to the productive citizens of this state who would end up paying for the half or so who won't pay a dime, is a good idea fiscally. But Olympia has shown time and again that their promises to the sheep they shear aren't to be trusted. So eliminating the sales tax on the start of an income tax? Yeah, once a government gets it's claws on a revenue source they won't let it go short of being forced to.
32
"That’s a substantial jump that will likely be passed down to renters too, but the city is pitching it as an affordability measure because, they say, increasing the efficiency of transportation will cut costs for residents who now spend about 17 percent of their expenses on transportation."

How in the world am I as a renter going to save money here? This is so ridiculous it's disingenuous. What? Is my bus going to cost less? Or will it just get me to work five minutes earlier? I can see how it may make some commutes more convenient, but for someone spending 17% on transportation, I doubt there will be more than negligible benefit. Or please explain to me what I am missing here.
33
@22, @24:

The $200 was an invented number for hypothetical metaphor. This would actually cost me about $35/unit/month.

You're assuming that rents are calculated based on cost to the building owner. That's like assuming the cost of oil is calculated based on the cost of production and distribution, rather than the market price. That may be the case for new production, but not for the majority of production (whether oil or rental units.)

Really. You guys are assuming a lot about what landlords pass along. I just hit $7,000 in unexpected expenses to correct a water infiltration problem. Do you think I'm going to raise everyone's rent by $250/month to cover that? No, it's part of my cost of doing business.

It just means I pay off the building a few months later than expected, not that I get to raise the rents.
34
@22: You can't accept that are small landlords who actually invest in, and give a hoot about, their residents and their own neighborhood and community? That's a sad worldview.

Personally, I find it spiritually fulfilling to provide good people with a great home at the most affordable price I can. Luckily, I am my sole investor, so I don't have to justify my decisions to anyone else. Go chew on that in your dystopian brain.
35
Why should the 1% pay more for all of this when they don't use the infrastructure more? Here's why. Their astronomical and egregious paychecks come directly from the hard work of the people under them that don't get their fair share of that money in the first place. It's not about use. It's about wage abuse. They have more money than they need. Therefore, for a just and productive society to function, some of that money should be put into things that benefit everyone. Because they can. And they should.

As for businesses...don't get me started. Government gives the major companies in our region breaks all the fucking time, when they are raking in record profits. This needs to stop. These businesses use the infrastructure to earn this profit. Seems pretty reasonable that they should chuck in a few bucks to help.
36
So we can't get progressive taxation (i.e. an income tax) to fund effective mass transit (i.e. a subway/light rail system) but we can get a regressive tax to pay for road paving and bike lanes.

In a vacuum this proposal is rational, and the inevitable knee-jerk conservative reaction will seem silly, but it's part of a systematic problem where the only way this city raises money is regressive taxation, and an inordinate amount of city money goes to vanity projects for the rich (SLUT, stadiums, Vulcan tax breaks etc.) or infrastructure improvements that mostly benefit wealthy neighborhoods.
38
Just raise the property tax to say 15%. That way everyone pays their fair share. Why should just property owners bear the burden? Tax, tax, tax....... It's the progressive way.
39
I'll probably vote for it, but am concerned about all of these property tax levies. I bought a house in North Seattle ten years ago. Since then, my property taxes have gone up 30% due to new levies and reassessments. What was once a pmostly middle-class area with small houses is now upper/high class. I don't have a huge problem with the change - what I have a problem with is my neighbors paying about the same/slightly higher property taxes while they make three times (or more) what I make. We need an income tax, now.
40
@35

Those aren't arguments. They're emotions. They're marxist talking points. You're frustrated that your BA on feminist studies means you have no actual saleable skills, and damnit soneone needs to pay for it!

Noted.
41
the City has close to $2B in deferred roads/bridge infrastructure backlog. and that only covers the 40% of the roads that are arterials. we all know that many residential streets - where we also walk, bike and ride - are trashed pretty badly.

how much does this package really address that backlog? and as roads deteriorate from a poor condition to a failing condition pretty quickly (thereby rapidly increasing cost to repair), does this package of new goodies really make a dent in the overall burden that the City needs to address?
42
I support the levy - almost every transportation investment pans out over a long horizon - but the city's framing is an outright lie - there's no way this is going to reduce costs for transit riders.
43
@24 - you aren't correct here, the landlord is here. The market sets the rate regardless of costs. The part they leave out, of course, is that in most cases the market price is well above costs.
44
@40 since you offer absolutely nothing substantial ever, and are completely full of shit, how about leaving the rest of us alone? NO ONE LIKES YOU OR WANTS YOU AROUND (just like real life I expect)
45
@40: They are indeed valid arguments. You, on the other hand, provide nothing but a diss. Fuck off. Suck my progressive commie dick. And offer up another suggestion with more merit.
46
@37- The Dexter Avenue bike lane is awesome. I use it whenever I'm heading downtown. Why would you get rid of that?

Otherwise I'm with you. Income tax and gas tax beats property tax and passing an income tax that will survive a court challenge in this state is likely impossible. In the meantime I'll vote for this. I'm kind of sick of how battered a lot of roads are around town.
47
@44

Let me see if I can type through the rain of hurt tears. I'll try to struggle manfu... sorry, personfully through.

@45

No. Really 'I and some others believe that honest profit = wage theft and should be punished through taxation' is not valid reason to support asking a tiny portion of taxpayers to pay other peoples way.

Like I wrote an income tax is probably the fiscally most sensible means of creating a stable tax base in this state. I understand that government must go where tge money is if it hopes to raise it. I understand that sales tax revenue decreases just as state costs increase in recessions. But fair? Just and equitable? Please.

Understand something. Labor is one resource business uses to create profit. But if a machinist or plumber or IT worker was let go today the company would go on. It would do so because the real motive force isn't and never has been labor. It's the creative spark that found a good idea, found the means to realize it and uses good management to keep it going. It's the ownership and management of business that create the jobs and the wealth, and asking for THEIR fair share is their just rewards for doing so.
48
I'll blindly support any tax increase. Where do I sign?
49
@47: I completely agree that WA is long overdue for an income tax, and that it would be far better than our regressive current tax system. No argument there.

However, the idea that the management/CEO of a company are job creators and wealth providers is insulting. Get rid of one employee, and the world still turns. Mess with them too much, and a significant number of them leave the job, the company goes out of business. All elements of the business are integral. The problem is that over the last 30 years the CEO class keeps doing better and the peons keep getting less and less. That needs to stop.

Now, you understand something Mr. Condescension. If the current modality of your agenda continues, the workers, who far outnumber the managers and CEOs, won't have enough to even participate in the economy at all, much less be the main source of tax revenue for needed societal stuff like roads and shit. The rich MUST put more into the pot. Or our society will soon crumble.

It is not fair or equitable that a very small number of people get almost all of the money and have to give practically none of it to help things work in our city, state and country. I don't care if it is unfair to tax the rich more. Because as it stands, my entire life as a middle class citizen has been a constant state of unfairness. Fairness, as an argument, holds little worth with me and millions of others under the boot heel of an unjust economic system when it comes to taking more money from people with far too much to begin with.

Now, how can we ALL make a better city for us ALL? This proposal will help a lot to make our city more capable of being a 'BIG' city that has public infrastructure that actually works. But, putting the burden on the property tax, AGAIN, is dumb. I'll still vote for it, because I have a desire to do what I can to make my city better and not horde my money and see a European-style socialist government as the smartest way to go. But I still think that huge businesses are FAR overdue to chip in and do their part to make the city better. They keep building and growing and building and growing and getting breaks and NOT funding the needed infrastructure that their continued growth mandates (and needs to remain successful in the long-term). It's a no-brainer to me. Force them to pay up. If they can get some extra coin from the people making $250,000 a year or more, even better.
50
For their own good, the rich should be subjected to an unbearable birth tax, onerous income taxes while alive, and a crushing death tax. Otherwise, they end up dead at the hands of angry mobs, along with their lapdogs (I'm looking at you, Seattleblahs).

Think about it - if we did create a tax structure that was a burden on the rich, would they actually leave? We should be so lucky. But if they did, we could reclaim their property, give everyone a place to live, and systematically destroy the suburbs, returning them to farm or forest.

The wealthy are a leech on society. The only thing to do to a leech is cut it off from its host.
51
Comrades. Why don't we sign all of our pay checks to the government and then let them decide what we need to live on? The rest gies to the needs if the masses. As our patron Saint Karl Marx once said "to each according to his needs, from each according to his abilities." Power to the Peopke.
52
How about a one time 1% tax on everyone (people and corporations) in Washington that made more than $10,000,000 a year. We could go back 20 years. We could use the money for schools and transportation.
54
They lost me with the Graham Street Station.
55
@47: I think we'd all be more inclined to listen to your appeals of 'facts, not emotional rhetoric' (paraphrasing) if you didn't have that unfortunate tendency to, when confronted with facts that don't support your opinions, unilaterally declare those facts to be fake. You don't get to demand factual support in the arguments of others and then refuse to recognize any facts that are inconvenient to your worldview (e.g. sales tax putting a disproportionate burden on the working poor, SCOTUS rulings on federal legislation, straight white men being protected by hate crime laws). Contra principia negantem non est disputandum.

And you think that upper management is the engine of prosperity? Riddle me this: which would be more effective at turning a profit, a company composed only of upper management or a company composed only of artisans and manufacturing workers? Labor is not a resource drawn on by the exalted masters of management. Rather, management is the natural and inevitable result of increasing complexity requiring specialized forms of labor devoted to organization.