Thoughts on Funding
"It is an increasing tradition in our region to offer government a la carte."
And before I go any further, I'm not against taxes. Compared to other countries (and even other states), we aren't taxed that much. But we do have a struggling economy and many people who are stretched to their limit (read: seniors and low-income folks).
She goes on to talk about how many levies/bonds may come before voters in all of 2010. We just had our first one with the school levies. Next up is likely to be a seawall levy.
"To that end, the Seattle City Council recently asked McGinn to review all the voter "asks" on the horizon to have a more holistic sense of what is coming up. Councilmember Tom Rasmussen says the council is not on board for the mayor's requested May election for the sea wall and may pursue other funding options, including use of the city's credit card to reduce the hit on taxpayers."
She also points out that that 2011 will have the renewal for the Families and Education levy (that funds many programs important to SPS) and maybe a levy to extend light rail to the west.
It's interesting because some of the comments after her column are pretty tough. There's a lot of "We just passed the school levies overwhelmingly. What makes you think we won't pass all the others?" I think her point is to ask if it could become possible for Seattle voters, at some point, to find "ballot fatigue and tax overload".
So I bring this up because in the middle of the column is this:
"That is until the Mariners stadium tax expires in early 2012.
Word to the wise: That tax will never come off the bill even after stadium bonds are paid because everybody and their second cousin once removed is eager to reroute the tax to their cause. Think Husky Stadium, KeyArena, the arts and others."
This is a really good point because it does seem unfair to ask for a tax for a finite item (the stadium) and then extend it to something else because people are already used to paying it. "It's not a new tax, it's a renewal!" I'm not even sure how that would work. Does the Legislature have the power to just shift the money elsewhere or do we vote on it again?
However, in Ms. Balter's list of places where the money could go, she left off education. That's one revenue stream that is awfully tempting. I'm not even sure how much money it is but if we are talking about funding education without always having an Operations levy, it might work.