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Council News Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   
9/12/2006  4:00:00 PM
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Krista Bunch, Drago Office, (206) 684-8801
Newell Aldrich, Licata Office, (206) 386-9011

Council President Nick Licata
Councilmember Sally Clark
Councilmember Richard Conlin
Councilmember Jan Drago
Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Richard McIver
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen

Councilmembers and Mayor Propose Changes to Improve Transportation Package
“Bridging the Gap” Phase One would now end after 9 years and $365 million raised

SEATTLE – Today Councilmember Jan Drago and Mayor Greg Nickels announced a major improvement in the “Bridging the Gap” Transportation Funding Package. “We listened to the public’s desire for accountability measures and have reconfigured the package to address those concerns,” says Councilmember Drago, chair of the Transportation Committee. Mayor Greg Nickels says, “This revised plan allows us to get started making improvements for people who walk, bike, take the bus or drive throughout the city and then come back to the voters in 9 years to finish the job.”

Phase One of the “Bridging the Gap” property tax levy would run for 9 years until 2015 and would raise $365 million for paving streets, seismic repairs for bridges, pedestrian and bicycle safety, and transit projects. Councilmember Sally Clark says, “This is the right time frame for the City to accomplish repairs that we need. It won’t finish the list, but it’s a good start.”

The new property tax levy would be a 18 percent reduction over the earlier property tax proposal. Councilmember Jean Godden says, “We’ve been listening and what we’ve heard is that the original package was too costly. This reduced package would balance what we need with what property owners can afford.” Councilmember Richard Conlin says, “This will still be a balanced package that would maintain our basic transportation system and make transit, bike, and pedestrian improvements that invest in our values of sustainability and environmental quality.”

In addition to a definite end date, “Bridging the Gap” Phase One would maintain the built-in accountability measures that have provided public oversight for other successful city levies. There would be a citizen review panel that would report to the City and the public about the success of the program. City Council President Nick Licata says, “The citizens of Seattle want to invest in the city’s future, but they want to know their money is being spent wisely. This new package gives Seattleites the oversight they have requested.” Councilmember Tom Rasmussen says, “The Councilmembers and the Mayor have done the right thing in responding to the public’s request for a reduction in the size of the overall package.”

The proposed levy would cost the owner of a $400,000 home about $155 the first year. The levy would only increase one percent per year in the five years thereafter. Councilmember Richard McIver says, “The Council has found the right size for this package: substantial enough to make real transportation improvements, but not so big that it is burdensome.”

In recent years, the City has been faced with falling revenues for transportation. Court decisions, citizen initiatives and the state’s funding formula have caused dedicated revenues to fall from $37.5 million in 1995 to $13.1 million in 2006. At the same time, more people live in Seattle and are using the roads, bridges, sidewalks, bike paths, and buses. Councilmember Drago says, “Seattleites know that our transportation system must be maintained and improved. This new package gives them a way to do that.”

View the fact sheet - Acrobat PDF 25 kb

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Seattle City Council

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