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Monday, May 12, 2014

Draft of Mayor Ed Murray's "Plan E" to Save Metro Obtained by The Stranger; Looks Remarkably Like Proposition 1

Posted by on Mon, May 12, 2014 at 11:40 AM

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  • AH
According to a draft memo that circulated in City Hall on Friday, Mayor Ed Murray's plan to save Metro is, at its core, a Seattle-only re-run of Proposition 1.

Envisioned as a November ballot measure, it would raise $45 million in funding through a $60 vehicle fee and 0.1% sales tax (but in Seattle only this time, rather than county-wide, as Prop 1 proposed).

We're calling Murray's idea Plan E, for "Ed doesn't like Plan C."

And to recap, for those just tuning in to this Alphabet Soup of transit talk: King County Metro plans to implement four rounds of cuts to Seattle bus service, starting in September, in response to a failure of the Washington State Legislature to provide Metro funding (Plan A) and the April failure of King County Proposition 1 (Plan B). Local transit activists who had proposed a Seattle-only property tax hike to save Metro have now put their plan (Plan C) on hold, according to that plan's main backer, Ben Schiendelman.

Murray's plan, according to the Stranger-obtained draft, would not prevent the first round of Metro cuts. But over the following year, the memo says, "city steps in to prevent second, third, and final round cuts." To do that will require $40 million, which would be raised through the Seattle-only car tabs and sales tax. In addition, the city would create a $5 million fund to "partner with key suburban partners to maintain cross-jurisdiction routes," including routes connecting Seattle to Bellevue and Kent.

In return, the memo says, Metro would assure the city "there will be no supplanting and that existing Metro-funded Seattle service will remain intact (existing as of January 1, 2015)." Translation: the money Seattle puts toward saving Metro won't go to routes outside the city.

Also, Metro would commit to "continued efforts to improve efficiency" as well as to replacing "the entire electric trolley bus fleet with modern electric trolleys."

The mayor's memo mentions a Tuesday morning press conference, where presumably this plan will be unveiled to the public. But the memo was circulated late last week, so plans could have changed in the interim. We may find out more this afternoon, when King County Executive Dow Costantine plans to make his own Metro-funding announcement (Plan D?).

"The county will lay the groundwork for cities to buy their own transit service," Ben Schiendelman, the transit activist who filed Plan C, says.

Contrary to some suggestions, we shouldn't expect Keep Seattle Moving to back whatever the mayor proposes, though the group has indeed suspended signature gathering.

Now that Mayor Murray has committed to a Seattle-only measure to save Metro service in this city, Schiendelman says, "the council needs to decide whether they want to provide a progressive option to voters." Meaning, pick one: Murray's sales tax proposal, or a Plan C-like property tax proposal.

Also meaning: Council members aren't going to be able to keep on endorsing everything. Soon, they're going to have to chose exactly what kind of Metro-saving plan they'll put before Seattle voters this fall.

 

Comments (51) RSS

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1
Shouldn't be a problem ladies, Prop 1 passed in Seattle overwhelmingly. Right?
Posted by LMAO it's going down on May 12, 2014 at 11:45 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 2
Can I just point out that I called it?

Murray doesn't have an original thought in his head.
Posted by keshmeshi on May 12, 2014 at 11:48 AM · Report this
3
What a stupid fucking idea.
Posted by giffy on May 12, 2014 at 12:03 PM · Report this
4
Uh, what happened to Murray's big Regionalism reasoning for dissing Plan C last week? Looks like it really *was* all about hating on Ben S. Which means Murray apparently is as petty, thin skinned and without new ideas as Sloggers deemed him to be last week.
Posted by Roses on May 12, 2014 at 12:15 PM · Report this
meanie 5
Voting for pre-k and transit might endanger mayors pet project so its bad, and btw Schiendelman is a big jerk.

But two different transit votes, with different funding sources makes sense how? What happens of both pass?

Also, none of these murray plans exist in legislation, they are only committee ideas, so they account for nothing.
Posted by meanie http://www.spicealley.net on May 12, 2014 at 12:16 PM · Report this
6
"What a stupid fucking idea."

Why? Last few weeks you were all bragging how Prop 1 did so well in Seattle, so it should be a breeze in liberal, progressive Seattle?
Posted by Sugartit on May 12, 2014 at 12:17 PM · Report this
Kinison 7
And should it fail, wouldn't it be the 3rd attempt to raise car tabs in Seattle. Last time, it was generous in offering a 3rd of the money to pay for road maintenance, this time around there's nothing, so 100% of the costs go to buses. So theres less of an incentive for drivers to vote for it.

Hope you folks are ready for "Plan F", which is basically waiting 20-30 minutes at the transfer point to catch the connecting bus. Also, why does Metro need this when projected tax revenue is increasing.

"Improving economy boosts Metro's coffers by $32 million"

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/32-mi…

I suppose why have money, when you can have MORE money.
Posted by Kinison http://www.holgatehawks.com on May 12, 2014 at 12:47 PM · Report this
8
i'm not voting for a flat car tab fee. Didn't we get into this situation in the first place because of that? fee stays the same, everything else keeps rising.
Posted by beef on May 12, 2014 at 12:55 PM · Report this
Ziggity 9
@7: for a good explanation of why Metro needs it, why not just read the article you linked to? Careful, though - you have to read at least to the eighth paragraph before you find it. Go ahead; we'll wait.

More generally, this ballot measure would pass if it were the only solution, I guess. But it's not regional, it's not collaborative, and it's not original, which is what Murray said it would be. He should never have complained about leadership on the issue unless he planned to show some.

Looking forward to voting Yes on 118.
Posted by Ziggity on May 12, 2014 at 12:58 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 10
So...Murray wants to fight for a regressive tax? When can we recall this asshole?
Posted by TheMisanthrope on May 12, 2014 at 1:03 PM · Report this
11
"Murray's plan, according to the Stranger-obtained draft, would not prevent the first round of Metro cuts. But over the following year, the memo says, "city steps in to prevent second, third, and final round cuts."

am i reading this right? the plan allows for the first round of cuts to remain, but prevents subsequent rounds of cuts?

if so, are you fucking kidding me? service is already inadequate. please tell me i'm wrong about this.
Posted by think of the children on May 12, 2014 at 1:09 PM · Report this
12
Why would we replace the trolley buses? Can't we just replace the wear items and keep them going?
Posted by Phil M http://twitter.com/pmocek on May 12, 2014 at 1:17 PM · Report this
MrBaker 13
For you folks that can't read:
"In addition, the city would create a $5 million fund to "partner with key suburban partners to maintain cross-jurisdiction routes," including routes connecting Seattle to Bellevue and Kent."

There is what little collaboration is likely going to be allowed in "D"ow's plan.

It finally looks like metro is slowly transitioning into the kind of county relationship King County government has with the cities on other cooperative activities.
Unincorporated King County is about to get what they pay for, next to nothing.
Posted by MrBaker http://manywordsforrain.blogspot.com/ on May 12, 2014 at 1:39 PM · Report this
14
@7 HAHAHAHAHA That article quoted "information" from WPC HAHAHAHAHAHA

Mean-spirited snark aside, those guys are in with Rodney Tom... you know, (one of) the guy(s) behind this mess. Soooo, I'm gonna go ahead and make fun of that entire article.
Posted by themightywoozie on May 12, 2014 at 1:41 PM · Report this
MrBaker 15
@10, we recall mayors every 4 years, it's unusual that they have second terms, and highly unusual that they have a 3rd.

Your next mayor, the other Mike, Mike OBrien (I'm calling it now).
Posted by MrBaker http://manywordsforrain.blogspot.com/ on May 12, 2014 at 1:42 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 16
Murray's plan, according to the Stranger-obtained draft, would not prevent the first round of Metro cuts.


Would Plan C prevent the first round of cuts? It seems like it wouldn't since the vote would presumably be in November.

That said, if Murray wasn't interested in preserving existing service by, for example, imposing new taxes *now* instead of waiting for a public vote, Plan E is some pointless bullshit. God forbid his pet project have to compete for property tax dollars.
Posted by keshmeshi on May 12, 2014 at 1:45 PM · Report this
MrBaker 17
@16, so, you are all set for the parks vote.
http://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-profi…

They compete even if they are not on the same ballot, and not identifying the same funding source.
It's an admirable and at the same time a disturbing trait to compartmentalize to that degree.
Posted by MrBaker http://manywordsforrain.blogspot.com/ on May 12, 2014 at 2:11 PM · Report this
18
Ridiculous. I am a homeowner and would be much more inclined to vote for multiple property tax measures, rather a completely regressive car tab tax.

I think what Murray is afraid of is that the childless urban crowd would vote for a property tax increase for transit but not for pre-K. And he's probably right.

He seems like a real combative asshole -- another one-term mayor.
Posted by Escapee from S. Idaho on May 12, 2014 at 2:17 PM · Report this
19
I won't vote for this as a car tab fee. I didn't in the election, either. I will happily vote for it as a property tax (I own property) or other non-regressive fee.
Posted by gator bait on May 12, 2014 at 2:36 PM · Report this
20
" she didn't make any principal payments from 2010 to 2012"

I do enjoy Anzel's monthly column, "Mortgaging to Morons". Invariably a few minutes of sniffing around pubic records shows the truth of the matter.
Posted by A few minutes Anzel never finds apparently on May 12, 2014 at 2:39 PM · Report this
Kinison 21
@9 So Metro needs 40 million to prevent cuts in Seattle, has 32 million in higher revenue coming. I understand some of this has to be shared throughout the county, but Seattle gets most of this money and the tax revenue is projected to get better. I also understand that inflation happens. So why does Seattle still need 40 million to cover 25 bus routes?

@14. I don't really pay much attention to the WPC, but Metro isnt disputing what they report. Tax revenue is higher, will climb higher, so all Metro really needs is enough to get by, lets say 10-20 million. Its hard to justify the need for 40 million when tax revenue is better.
Posted by Kinison http://www.holgatehawks.com on May 12, 2014 at 2:43 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 22
Of the two ideas being circulated, Plan C utilizes property tax, and Plan E utilizes the car tabs and sales tax. I haven't a clue yet what funding source plan D might utilize.

To me this is a no brainer. A property tax is much more progressive than car tabs/sales tax.

Sorry Ed. Not with you on this one.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on May 12, 2014 at 2:52 PM · Report this
23
@12 - I'll speculate here that Ed is calling that out because the entirety of the trolley fleet runs within Seattle city limits only, and Metro is slated to replace the fleet over the next couple years. And he's probably worried that County Council might figure, hey, Seattle can pay for service, maybe they wanna buy some buses too?

As to the why - well, for one example, the 60' Breda articulated trolleys were purchased in the early '90s. If you've been on one lately (after they were converted from their original dual-mode role to be electric-only) on the 7, 49, 36, 44, etc., you'll know that they are basically held together with duct tape at this point. And while Metro was able to salvage the electric engines from the old 40' trolleys the last go-round, they are now ending their serviceable lives. PLUS a new trolley fleet will be low-floor, eliminating the need for the time-consuming lift and making service better for everyone who uses them. So yeah, by all means, we should replace the trolleys.
Posted by CDJohnS on May 12, 2014 at 2:54 PM · Report this
MrBaker 24
@22, it looks like plan "D" is whatever taxing method local municipalities prefer in order to enter into interoperating agreement with other municipalities, facilitated by King County Metro.

See plan "E" $5 million dollar "partner" plan with Shoreline, Bellevue, and Kent.

It's, everybody go it alone, anyway you want, together, or apart, right now, or never.
It's the worst dim sum I've ever had, and the portions are small, too.
Posted by MrBaker http://manywordsforrain.blogspot.com/ on May 12, 2014 at 3:14 PM · Report this
25
@22, can you explain how a property tax is "much more progressive" than car tabs/sales tax?

I'm not being snarky, I'm just having a hard time understanding the progressive/regressive taxing debate that is happening here.
Posted by Grape Ape on May 12, 2014 at 3:16 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 26
Perfect!

As we all know, Prop 1 was heavily supported in Seattle, it was defeated by big meanies from King County. Now Seattle can get it's very own version of Prop 1, which will no doubt win by 60% to 70%.
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 12, 2014 at 3:30 PM · Report this
King Ed Murray 27
@25
can you explain how a property tax is "much more progressive" than car tabs/sales tax?


The logic typically is this.

Why car tabs are regressive: I own a $1000 beater and you own a $100,000 Tesla. I earn $20,000 a year. You earn $500,000 a year. We both pay +$60 in tabs. That represents to me:

0.06% of my car's value
0.003% of my annual income


For you, that represents:

0.0006% of your car's value
0.00012% of your car's value


Now, for sales tax, it's the same argument. You can absorb that $0.01 increase a hell of a lot easier than a poor person can.

Compare that to a property tax:

Your home is worth $500,000.
My home is worth $100,000.


We both pay the same flat rate: $0.22 per thousand of value. Our bills go up by:

You: 500 times $0.22 = +$110/year
Me: 100 times $0.22 = +$22/year


One is a proportional tax. Those with more pay more. The others aren't.
Posted by King Ed Murray on May 12, 2014 at 3:33 PM · Report this
King Ed Murray 28
IN OTHER WORDS:

My rich friends and donors said they would fire me from my throne if I taxed them more!
Posted by King Ed Murray on May 12, 2014 at 3:34 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 29
@25,

Property tax is levied on the assessed value of your home, which means that people who own a $2 million house pay a hell of a lot more in total tax dollars than someone who owns a $200k starter home. The proposed $60 car tab fee is a flat rate you pay regardless if you drive a clunker that you can only sell for scrap metal or a $70,000 Lexus.

It's regressive since poorer people pay a greater percentage of their incomes towards that tax. This state has the most regressive tax system in the country.
Posted by keshmeshi on May 12, 2014 at 3:37 PM · Report this
30
On the surface that's true, but in reality the highest-taxed properties are apartment buildings, and the increased taxes on those will simply be passed on in the form of rent increases. So property taxes, while slightly more progressive than car tabs, really aren't that much better for low- to average-income residents.
Posted by uh huh on May 12, 2014 at 3:52 PM · Report this
31
@23: So the trolley buses are barely 20 years old and now considered unserviceable? Just what is it that wore out and cannot be replaced?
Posted by Phil M http://twitter.com/pmocek on May 12, 2014 at 4:03 PM · Report this
32
@30 An $80 for one is more expensive than $120 meal for six, at least when you consider it per person.

Similarly, while an apartment owner will pass on the added expense, it will be mitigated by the fact that it could be spread across multiple tenants.
Posted by Unregistered Commenters Sure Are Stupid on May 12, 2014 at 4:05 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 33
Told you he wanted the money for his unfunded Deep Bollixed Tunnel cost overruns
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on May 12, 2014 at 4:16 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 34
@28 for Inciteful Observation of the Day
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on May 12, 2014 at 4:18 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 35
@31 There are a variety of issues in general with older vehicles of all kinds, buses are an extreme example given their size, weight, and regulatory considerations.

First, parts availability is an issue, and while you can possibly have them custom made if you have the original prints and specs the price tag for such can be prohibitive, not to mention the legal issues.

Next is frame / structural member fatigue. Buses are big and heavy, over time the frame is subject to stresses which will eventually cause stress fracturing among other issues in even the best construction.

At some point you are looking at remanufacturing a vehicle from the ground up - at that point the vehicle is considered unserviceable as the cost of doing so would likely exceed that of buying a new one.
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 12, 2014 at 4:43 PM · Report this
36
He's never going to get anywhere with car tabs. Seattle voters hate car tabs.
Posted by cloudia19 on May 12, 2014 at 5:05 PM · Report this
37
@27, 29
Thanks! You explained it well and I can see how car tabs are regressive. My question now is, what about low-income homeowners who have property that is being assessed at higher and higher values due to gentrification? Isn't that fairly regressive? Is that not how it works? Is that just kind of a red herring? Really trying to understand the nuance of this.

Also, I'm kind of confused about why such skepticism wasn't being thrown against prop 1, even though it's the exact same taxing plan. I thought that prop 1 was a good (not perfect) plan and it seemed like a lot Seattle (including the Stranger) did too. Now that it's being proposed by the mayor, everyone seems upset about it.

What's going on?
Posted by Grape Ape on May 12, 2014 at 5:11 PM · Report this
MrBaker 38
Ref #37, and you will have to also define the acceptable level of hypocrisy to desperation in the decision/equation
Posted by MrBaker http://manywordsforrain.blogspot.com/ on May 12, 2014 at 5:25 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 39
I have a plan to fully fund Metro. I will need a large initial investment, however, to purchase many thousands of lamps and a staff to rub said lamps full-time.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on May 12, 2014 at 5:36 PM · Report this
40
My question now is, what about low-income homeowners who have property that is being assessed at higher and higher values due to gentrification? Isn't that fairly regressive? Is that not how it works? Is that just kind of a red herring? Really trying to understand the nuance of this.

Yes, you've identified a group for whom property taxes might fall rather hard. Property tax is not *perfectly* progressive (a more progressive tax would be an income tax; even more progressive than that an inheritance tax), just more progressive overall than a flat car tab (because while there are exceptions and outliers along the lines note, there is a generally pretty strong correlation between the value of one's private property and one's overall level of wealth).

Another reason property tax is relatively progressive is that renters, who as a general rule are poorer than homeowners, won't really feel it all. In some rental environments they might, but the Seattle rental market is sufficiently tight that rents are determined by what the market will bear, not by the costs associated with property ownership.
Posted by david jw on May 12, 2014 at 5:43 PM · Report this
41
"renters, who as a general rule are poorer than homeowners, won't really feel it all. "

Well, I itemize my rent to my two tenants, including a line with what they are paying for property taxes, so they damn sure know what will happen if they vote to raise them.
Posted by Trust me, they notice on May 12, 2014 at 5:59 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 42
@37 "My question now is, what about low-income homeowners who have property that is being assessed at higher and higher values due to gentrification?"

Short answer: They pay, or they get fucked. There is some assistance available in the form of lower levy rates to veterans, seniors, and the disabled. If you are simply unable to pay your levy you have only the option of breaking the payment into 2 payments and paying interest on the deferred amount, which also becomes a lien against your property - which will throw most mortgages into foreclosure anyways. So, your choice: don't pay and face tax lien foreclosure, pay half and face the mortgage lender foreclosing on you anyways.

The issue doesn't apply solely to the low-income. As a middle class homeowner I can tell you that after total cost of ownership I have far less "discretionary" income than many folks who rent. Unlike commercial / residential landlords, I can not simply pass the increase along to my tenants.

The folks who get hurt by property tax hikes are indeed the homeowners - considered by many among the left to automatically be rich, and able to absorb the costs of Metro financial mismanagement, as well as any other public funding issues which may arise.
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 12, 2014 at 6:10 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 43
@37,

I'm not so much mad about car tabs as mad at Murray for being a dipshit.

In any event, car tabs plus a sales tax increase affects me personally since my property tax increase would be less than both.

In some rental environments they might, but the Seattle rental market is sufficiently tight that rents are determined by what the market will bear, not by the costs associated with property ownership.


So, in other words, they're paying a hell of a lot *more* than what it costs to actually own/manage a rental property. They're feeling it all right.

And, when I rented below market rate housing several years ago, every single time there was a new levy passed, my rent went up.
Posted by keshmeshi on May 12, 2014 at 6:21 PM · Report this
44
Murray's plan, according to the Stranger-obtained draft, would not prevent the first round of Metro cuts. But over the following year, the memo says, "city steps in to prevent second, third, and final round cuts."

We are all in for a world of pain in September. My bus is already crowded. I already have to wait 20 to 30 minutes for the cross town connection. I guess I will be walking more.

I feel like this is just a plot to make me healthier.
Posted by 23 years in south seattle on May 12, 2014 at 8:30 PM · Report this
45
I still don't understand why we would want to use the most regressive funding source available (sales tax & tab fees), rather than the most progressive funding source available.
Posted by Lack Thereof on May 12, 2014 at 8:35 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 46
@45

An income tax? Because it's been defeated in a vote several times over the last couple decades. It isn't banned by our state constitution, it has just lost at the polls. I'd love to see the 15Now folks put their energy into that issue please.

Did you mean a property tax raise? Because it can only be raised so far, leaving fewer options for funding in the future, including possible future crises. If it is raised to/near the cap a reduction in property valuations can result in defunding current levies. Care to bet buses, Fire, EMS, parks, low income assistance, every civic service, etc on there not being a worsening of our recession in the next 2 years? Yeah, Murray doesn't want to make that bet either. That bastard.

...Which you would know if you had bothered to read anything Murray (or even his reasonably journalistic detractors) have written by the way.
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 13, 2014 at 2:39 AM · Report this
47
This Metro 'save' is just a band-aid. We need to be more proactive. Put the burden of the cost of public transit on the people who drive cars into Seattle! They are the ones who need to lobby for better public transit for commuters. Give them an incentive.

As I wrote elsewhere, "congestion pricing" is Seattle's long term solution. It would mean charging a fee to all cars that ENTER Seattle in order to pay for public transit and pedestrian/bike projects. A move toward fossil-free cities is inevitable, so this is a good beginning. These 'congestion fees' are already being charged in London, Singapore and Milan ... and San Francisco is initiating their version next year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francis…
Posted by Dktr Sus on May 13, 2014 at 11:02 PM · Report this
48
lol ... not sure which fossils we need to be free of ... make that "fossil-fuel free" ... Climate Change, ya know. It's real.
Posted by Dktr Sus on May 13, 2014 at 11:05 PM · Report this
49
@41
You raise rents by 5 dollars a month if they vote for this tax? Which line item is your profit?
Posted by JonCracolici on May 14, 2014 at 8:55 PM · Report this
50
Recall Murray. Take him and his rich buddies and their corrupt politics out of our city.
Posted by Jim who on May 16, 2014 at 4:48 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 51
Sloggers sure do seem ready to throw pre-K under the bus, so to speak. I've never seen such a collection of nasty comments ("Mayor's pet project") on a nominally progressive site. I guess if you're a twenty-something who rides the bus you really don't give a crap about low-income families.
Posted by kk in seattle on May 17, 2014 at 2:45 PM · Report this

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