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Seattle Mayor Proposes Tax, Fee Hikes For Transit

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Sen. Ed Murray (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Sen. Ed Murray (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mayor Ed Murray wants voters to approve both tax and fee increases to pay to keep buses running in the city and to and from the suburbs.

Murray on Tuesday announced a proposed $60 car registration fee increase and a 0.1 percent sales tax increase to buy bus service back from King County Metro. Metro has said bus service will be cut this fall because the state Legislature did not find more money for transit and King County voters defeated a tax increase.

The proposal, which will likely go before Seattle voters in November, is similar to the county-wide proposal, which passed in Seattle by more than 66 percent.

“The failure of Proposition I has created an urgent need for Seattle to act,” Murray said. “We know this is what Seattle wants.”

The proposal would raise an estimated $45 million per year, including $3 million for a regional fund to match dollars from other municipalities to support regional bus routes. The $42 million would be enough to pave over 90 percent of the proposed transit cuts within the city, Murray said.

Murray’s proposal follows an announcement on Monday by King County Executive Dow Constantine inviting cities to buy back the proposed bus cuts.

“This is not a Seattle takeover of Metro,” Murray said.

Both Murray and Constantine say the Legislature needs to find a permanent, long-term solution.

State Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, said voters can help make that happen by defeating Republicans running for the state Senate.

Murray said the tax and fee increases will last as long as there is no other source of money to pay for transit.

When asked why he didn’t propose a property tax increase, the mayor said there was already an important property tax increase being prepared for the November ballot for universal pre-kindergarten in Seattle.

Constantine said the money from Seattle won’t stop transit route cuts this fall, which are already in the works, but he will work to restore service as quickly as possible.

Constantine promised to work with Seattle to keep late night bus service running. Murray promised he would do whatever he could to protect that critical service.

Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said Seattle is working with its neighboring cities to support good transit in the region.

“We don’t want our buses to stop at the city limits,” he said, adding that he expects voters in other places to support a regional plan to keep transit going.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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