Hours before a public hearing on the Transportation Levy to Move Seattle, Councilmember Nick Licata has released his alternative plan for funding the bold citywide transportation investment program. Licata’s plan differs from the one pitched by Mayor Ed Murray by using a mix of funding sources while still meeting the $930 million target in the Move Seattle manifesto. Licata is proposing an increased commercial parking tax, a new employee hours tax, and transportation-related impact fees on new development while the size of the property tax levy would be reduced.
The commercial parking tax would be raised 5% and the employee hours tax would levy $18 per employee that drives to work annually; Licata estimates that his plan would raise a combined $230 million alone between the two taxes. Licata will prepare separate legislation that will specifically address the commercial parking and employee hours tax.
New development over the nine years would kick in another $100 million through newly imposed impact fees. Meanwhile, Seattle residents would also directly help contribute to the Move Seattle program through a more modest levy anticipated to raise $600 million.
For comparison purposes, Licata’s proposal would be a 64% levy increase over the soon-to-expire $365 million Bridging the Gap levy. The Mayor’s plan, on the other hand, would represent a 146% levy increase. Licata says that his proposal would save the average homeowner a substantial amount over the Mayor’s proposal. Today’s median housing price is $450,000, which would translate to a 2016 tax bill for the average homeowner of $176 under Licata’s levy plan versus $277 under the Mayor’s. Homeowners of median valued units will pay $136 in the current year for the soon-to-expire Bridging the Gap levy.
In a statement, Licata said “I believe this balanced package is the surest approach to reaching the $930 million in needed transportation funding identified by the Mayor, while maintaining affordability in Seattle.”
A public hearing on the Transportation Levy to Move Seattle will be held tonight by the Select Committee on Transportation Funding beginning at 5.30pm. The Council will meet in the Council Chambers located at City Hall.
Stephen is a professional urban planner in Puget Sound with a passion for sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He is especially interested in how policies, regulations, and programs can promote positive outcomes for communities. With stints in great cities like Bellingham and Cork, Stephen currently lives in Seattle. He primarily covers land use and transportation issues and has been with The Urbanist since 2014.