It’s maybe not the most shockingly dishonest thing the Seattle Times editorial board has ever printed—that would be this. But in terms of sheer disrespect for the intelligence of their readers, it’s hard to sink any lower than this unapologetic libel of Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed Move Seattle levy:
The size of Move Seattle is breathtaking. The property-tax bill for a $450,000 house would nearly double, to about $275 a year. That won’t help rapidly escalating rents or middle-class homeowners dealing with rising home values.
And you know what else won’t help rapidly escalating housing costs? Lying.
To be clear, Move Seattle would not double your property-tax bill. It wouldn’t even come close. It would double the amount you’re paying on the expiring Bridging the Gap levy, but that amounts to only a $145 increase on a $450,000 home—just 3.3 percent of the total property-tax bill (and a mere .03 percent of the value of your home)—not the 100 percent increase that the editors imply. Big difference.
To understand how breathtaking this lie is, imagine if “Property-Tax” Bill was an actual living, breathing human being. The editors’ assertion is so clearly erroneous, misleading, and defamatory that Bill could easily sue the paper for libel, and win big!
No doubt the proposed levy deserves careful scrutiny; all levies do. But so does the editors’ larger implication that Seattle homeowners are overtaxed: “Seattle is the city that doesn’t say no to taxes,” the editors emphasize in a pull-quote.
And yet according to the tax records on my own median-value home, my property-tax rate has actually gone down over the past decade, from 1.06 percent of assessed value in 2004 to only 0.96 percent in 2014! Compared to a lot of other cities, that’s a bargain, especially considering that we don’t even have an income tax. Despite rising property values, in raw dollars, my property-tax bill has barely outpaced inflation.
Yes, we pass a lot of levies here in Seattle, and we tend to pass them with ease. But these levies are constantly expiring. So while it may feel like we’re always being asked to raise our own taxes, our effective property-tax rate is actually quite low, and has remained low over time. In fact, tack on this allegedly “breathtaking” Move Seattle levy, and my property-tax rate would still be less than it was back in 2004.
Not that you’d ever know this from reading the blatantly misleading op-ed pages of the Seattle Times.