Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Important Public Hearing Tonight To Speak Out On Transportation Funding Package To Include Increase In Vehicle License Fee For Rail Funding

A Public Hearing tonight of the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, made up of nine City Council members,  will be discussing and listening to public comments on the future of the passenger rail network. The Hearing will be take place at 5:30pm at City Hall Council Chambers, 2nd floor (600 4th Avenue).

The City Council members will be taking comments from the public on the details of an important transportation funding package, which will have long-term impacts on what kind of transportation investments the City makes, including rail.

The Mayor's office says:

Seattle has a chance to finally start building the kind of passenger rail network that our city needs to connect our neighborhoods and compete in the 21st century global economy. But the decision is now up to the City Council, and they need to hear from you."

Because of a drop in revenue coming into the city for transportation projects over the last several years (thanks to Eyman initiatives and the recession), the City will continue to come up short when it comes to investments in our streets if we don't do something about it. We’re behind on basic maintenance – and we’re behind on building the transit we need.

This transportation package that will be discussed tonight is based off of an original proposal by the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee III (CTAC III).

Their package proposes:
an $80 vehicle license fee, with:
  • 50% of the revenue would go to transit
  • 30% of the revenue would go to street maintenance
  • 20% of the revenue would go to pedestrian, neighborhood, and bicycle improvements.

This fee would allow for planning, design, and construction of projects identified by the Transit Master Plan, the information says.

Currently, the City Council is considering lowering the proposed fee to $60, and possibly aso limiting the number of years it would be levied, to only 8 years.

"Unfortunately, what that means is that the ability to bond those funds to do large projects would be taken away. That means no rail projects," the Mayor's newsletter says. "An ongoing $80 VLF may not sound that much different from a $60 VLF that lasts eight years, the difference is actually pretty stark: with the first, we can get a substantial down payment to connect our neighborhoods. With the second, we get more planning."

Five high-capacity transit corridors have been identified  in Seattle, including potential rail lines from downtown to Ballard, downtown to the U-District, as well as connecting rail in the Center City.

If you can't attend the public hearing, you can email the City Council with your input on transportation priorities in Seattle.

1 comment:

galenorama said...

The council is not debating wether or not to enact a $80 dollar VLF. The council is debating the size of the VLF, whether it be $40, $60, or $80, and they are debating where the money from this potential new revenue source will go, only of the options of which is for rail. If it passes the council, than the fee would go on the November Ballot. See this Publicola post.