(Seattle Center and Community Centers)
To improve the Opera House and replace the Seattle Center Flag Pavilion, and to build, replace, or expand nine Parks Department community recreation and activity centers and build two new neighborhood civic centers, shall Seattle lift the regular property tax limit in RCW 84.55 to permit collecting $72,000,000 in up to eight years, no more than $19,000,000 any year, setting maximum regular property taxes for 2000 collection at $3.52/$1,000 assessed value, pursuant to Ordinance 119522?
Ordinance 119522 asks the voters of Seattle to authorize additional regular property taxes to be collected for up to eight years (2000 through 2007) to provide up to $72,000,000, of which no more than $19,000,000 may be collected in any one year. These funds would be used to pay for improvements at Seattle Center, community centers, and for other neighborhood centers.
The improvements to be funded by Proposition 1 fall into two major components: the Seattle Center component and the Community Centers component.
The Seattle Center component consists of the seismic upgrade and comprehensive renovation of the Opera House (including a reconfiguration of the Mercer Arena to provide a home for the ballet and opera during construction) and the replacement of the Flag Pavilion with a new Festivals Pavilion and open space. Up to $36,000,000 of the additional taxes raised through Proposition 1 would be used for this component.
The Community Centers component consists of the construction or remodeling of community centers, development of neighborhood civic centers, and funding of neighborhood gathering places. Up to $36,000,000 of the additional taxes raised through Proposition 1 would be used for this component.
The individual elements of the Community Centers component are listed in Attachment B to Ordinance 119522. They are:
- building a neighborhood service center in Ballard;
- leasing or purchasing space (and build-out of that space if required) for community gatherings and activities in Belltown;
- adding meeting, multi-purpose, and kitchen space to the High Point community center;
- funding community center and gathering space in the International District as part of Phase II of the Village Square project;
- adding a gymnasium to the Jefferson Park community center;
- building a neighborhood service center in Lake City;
- building a community center (including acquisition of land if required) in Northgate;
- renovating Building 47 at Sand Point to a community center;
- adding a gymnasium to the Southwest community center;
- demolishing the existing community center and building a new community center in Yesler (conditioned on the Seattle Housing Authority providing suitable land for its construction at a nominal cost); and
- adding meeting, multi-purpose, and kitchen space to the Van Asselt community center.
The estimated cost of each of the elements of the Community Centers component is stated in Attachment B to Ordinance 119522. Attachment C to Ordinance 119522 sets out the expected allocation of additional taxes between the two components for each of the eight years; unless fewer additional tax dollars are available in a particular year than shown in Attachment C, a ¾ vote of the City Council is needed to change the annual allocation in Attachment C by more than 5%.
The total allocation of funds may not be shifted between the two components, but the City Council may, by a ¾ vote, add an element to, delete an element from, or change the scope of an element in the Community Centers component.
Under RCW 84.55.010 and 84.55.0101, the Seattle City Council may set the amount of its regular property taxes at no more than the sum of (a) 106% of the highest amount that was or could have been levied in the past three years, plus (b) an amount to account for the value of new construction in the city. This limitation is called the "levy lid." A majority vote of the electorate is needed to authorize regular property taxes in an amount greater than the levy lid. Lifting the levy lid may be done to fund a particular project, or for a designated period of time, or both. In addition to the levy lid, city regular property taxes are also limited to a maximum of $3.60 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, with the exception of certain voter-approved amounts for emergency medical services and housing for very low-income households.
Effect of This Measure, If Approved
If Proposition 1 is approved, Seattle would be authorized to levy up to $72,000,000 for the Seattle Center and Community Center purposes described above and in Ordinance 119522. These additional regular property taxes could be collected in annual amounts of up to $19,000,000 for up to eight years beginning in 2000, so long as the total collected does not exceed $72,000,000.
The City's total regular property tax levy (including the amount authorized by Proposition 1) would still be subject to the $3.60 per $1,000 of assessed value limit, with the same exceptions noted above. One of the exceptions is for very low-income housing. In 1995 the voters approved a levy of approximately $0.18 per $1,000 that falls within this exception. If Proposition 1 is approved by the voters, the effective regular property tax limit for taxes due in 2000 would be approximately $3.52 per $1,000.
After the expiration of Proposition 1, property taxes would be limited by the 106% levy lid calculated as though Proposition 1 had not been approved, and by the $3.60 limit with the voter-approved exceptions noted above.