This stuff bugs the hell out of me:
With rising condo towers and disappearing green space in Seattle, City Council members say the city needs more parks. A levy aimed at building new parks expires this year, and several on the council say the public would support renewing it.
But there’s one member of the public who does not support it — the mayor. Every voter-approved city levy since 2001 has originated with him. The City Council approved putting those levies on the ballot, but Mayor Greg Nickels proposed the property-tax increases, organized supporters and raised the money to fund the campaigns.
“We believe that this data indicates there is in fact pretty strong public support,” said Conlin. After eight years, the expiring $198 million parks levy has not met all of the city’s needs for community centers and parks, said Tom Rasmussen, chairman of the parks committee. Neighborhoods such as Belltown still need a park, he said.
Council members are now putting together a 20-member advisory committee to come up with a list of parks projects the public wants funded.
It makes me crazy that my neighborhood, neglected and ignored Belltown, is being used to justify millions in taxes that will ultimately benefit lots of other neighborhoods. Such was the case during the last parks levy. The project list shows just a single project in Belltown. Of course, Belltown has been promised a community center for years. What assurance do I have that another levy will get around to building it?
Meanwhile, for similar dollars per household, Sound Transit wants to build light rail north, east, and south. When surveyed, most folks around here find transportation to be a more pressing concern. While I’m concerned about not having a basketball court, the region’s economy doesn’t rest on my hook shot. (We should all be glad that it doesn’t.)
This is a city that does important small things (plastic bags) and important big things (fighting climate change).
Raising everyone’s property taxes NOW, in the same year Sound Transit could very well go to the ballot with a transit-only package funded by a sales tax, isn’t a great idea. See the update below.
If renewing the parks levy is so important, why don’t they already have a project list compiled? Here’s my plan: Find ten really important, we-can’t-live-without-them projects, and go to the voters with that list. In fact, combine it with funds dedicated for the remodel of the Seattle Center. (That might be the least appealing public space in the city, and could use some new resources.)
A while back, a prospective city council candidate went down to City Hall to find out what the council’s priorities were. They gave him a binder full of hundreds of “priorities.” Of course, if you have a hundred “priorities,” you don’t have any.
City Council candidates, when they stand for election, like to talk about making transportation a priority. This year, they can really do it.
I get email clarifying the tax issue:
Just to clarify, the Council is not looking to raise anyone’s taxes –
any levy that the city council is considering will cost the same or less
to taxpayers (when combined with the Mayor’s Pike Place Market levy) as
they’re paying now for the current Pro-Parks levy.