Seattle Mayor Taps Brakes On Transit Funding, Prepares His Own Plan

May 9, 2014

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is urging voters and elected officials not to get behind a local property tax hike to fund mass transit. Instead, the mayor plans to introduce his own proposal next week.

Murray tapped the brakes just as transit advocates began coalescing around a new plan to fund bus service with millions from Seattle homeowners.

But Murray says transit needs a regional solution, and he’s leery about larding up the ballot with too many levies. He cites a future housing levy, another transportation levy for things like sidewalks and bike paths, a possible public safety levy and funding for parks.

Murray says his priority is a long-term fight against poverty by funding universal preschool.

“I'm willing to draw the line, and I’m willing to be called the anti-transit mayor if it’s to protect the property tax,” Murray told reporters Friday. "If that’s how people want to have that debate, I'm willing to have that debate because I believe changing the lives of those 3- and 4-year-olds is the most important thing that we can do.”

Murray says he’s looking at a number of different revenue sources for buses, from property taxes to car tabs to cuts to the Seattle Department of Transportation.

A spokesman for the Seattle-only transit initiative told Seattle Transit Blog he’d drop the measure if Murray’s turns out to be better, but he plans to keep gathering signatures for now.

The first bus service cuts are expected to take effect in September. Murray says even if a funding measure passes, those initial cuts are likely to stick.