For Immediate Release: April 25, 2014
Friends of Transit files initiative to reverse cuts to Seattle bus service
Builds on majority support for transit funding among Seattle voters
SEATTLE -- Friends of Transit today filed an initiative for the November 2014 ballot that would save bus service within Seattle city limits. The measure would raise up to $155 million over the next six years, enough to reverse most cuts to King County Metro routes in Seattle. Proponents filed the measure in response to the failure of the Proposition 1 transit and road maintenance funding measure this week. Despite losing countywide, a clear majority of Seattle voters approved Proposition 1, indicating their desire to avoid cuts to bus and streetcar service.
The initiative includes strong protections to ensure the revenues are spent to restore service cuts in Seattle, creates a Public Oversight Committee to oversee spending of Levy Funds, and includes language preventing Metro from using these revenues to supplant funding that Metro would otherwise provide for bus service in Seattle.
"Momentum is building behind our initiative," said Ben Schiendelman, founder of Friends of Transit and initiative proponent. "This is the most progressive tax option we have available to us, and we should use it. Seattle residents have repeatedly shown they will approve a levy lift for the things they care about, and we know they care deeply about their buses."
"I'm really excited that we will have a chance to save the bus routes that my family and my neighbors depend on every day. This initiative is our best opportunity to preserve the safe, convenient, and reliable transit services that are so important to our neighborhoods," said Renee Staton, homeowner, mother, and Pinehurst Community Council member.
The initiative was filed with the Seattle City Clerk's office, which will review it for approval or rejection. If approved, proponents can begin to gather the 20,638 valid signatures required to qualify the measure for the November 2014 ballot.
The proposed initiative would increase the city's property tax by $0.22 per $1,000 of assessed value between 2015 and 2021. The measure is estimated to generate approximately $155 million in total revenue over six years, enough to fund as much as 250,000 hours of bus service. This funding would help stave off cuts to routes operating within Seattle. The property tax increase requires a simple majority vote for approval.
Revenues would be collected by the City of Seattle and used to purchase service from King County Metro. Seattle currently buys approximately 45,000 hours of bus service from Metro using revenues generated by the Bridging the Gap property tax levy, approved by voters in 2006.
Click here for full text of the proposed initiative.