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Proposed $1.45B Seattle transportation levy may expand before council vote


(The Center Square) – Members of the Seattle City Council continue discussing a possible $1.45 billion transportation levy, with potential for the levy to increase funding even more.

Earlier this month, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced an updated transportation levy proposal that boosts the initial $1.35 billion eight-year levy to the current $1.45 billion levy to fund transportation projects prioritized by Seattleites.

During Tuesday morning committee meeting centered on the proposed transportation levy, Seattle City Councilmember Cathy Moore said that there is a possibility that the levy could increase in size as a result of the committee’s discussions.

City Council President Sara Nelson added that city staff will need to look deeper into the levy to ensure funds cover all bases of transportation needs in the city.

“We need to understand how much more money do we need [and] how well is the existing levy performing when it comes to the things that are continually increasing our costs year-over-year,” Nelson said at the committee meeting.

Seattle already has the nine-year, $930 million Levy to Move Seattle passed in 2015, but it is set to expire at the end of this year. It costs the owner of a median-priced Seattle property about $24 per month, or $288 per year.

According to Seattle Central Staff Analyst Calvin Chow, a median homeowner in Seattle would pay about $470 next year for the current proposed levy. That is an increase of 56% – $169 per year – from the current Move Seattle Levy.

During the public comment period of the meeting, some spoke in favor of increasing the levy from $1.45 billion to $1.7 billion in order to see more projects that improve biking infrastructure and traffic safety.

If the levy were to increase to $1.7 billion, a median homeowner would pay $550 per year. A $1.9 billion levy would cost a median homeowner $615 per year.

Seattle central staff flagged one potential issue with the proposed levy: if passed by voters, the minimum general fund requirement would be $50.7 million in the first year of the levy. The city is currently working to address a projected $245 million budget deficit next year.

The select committee on the 2024 transportation levy will hold three more meetings on June 4, June 18, and July 2. There will be one more public hearing on June 4.

If the levy is approved by the select committee on July 2, the Seattle City Council could take a final vote on July 9 to put the measure before voters this November.