Seattle council sends transportation funding to voters

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Seattle’s City Council voted earlier this week to send a transit funding measure to that city’s voters in November.

After a lengthy debate, the council voted unanimously to let voters decide whether or not they’re will to pay a 0.05 percent tax increase to sales tax that would fund the city’s Transportation Benefit District. The current measure is funded by a 0.1 percent sales tax, and would raise, with voters’ approval to 0.15 percent.

The six-year funding package is part of a renewal of the existing funding, which charges a 0.1 percent sales tax and a $60 car-tab fee voters approved in 2014. The city uses the money to buy bus service from Metro, which has boosted frequencies resulting in most Seattle households having access to a least one bus every 10 minutes, according to the city.

City Councilman Alex Pederson said in a statement that he approved of sending the ballot measure to voters, citing his hesitancy to break campaign promises not to increase the sales tax. But he also applauded the council’s unity in deciding to put the decision in voters’ hands.

“To keep promises I previously made about not increasing the sales tax, I voted against the amendments to increase the Mayor’s across-the-board renewal. But, in the spirit of compromise and unity that City Hall so desperately needs during these tumultuous times, I ultimately joined all of my colleagues to make sure we put this important transit measure on the ballot for voters to decide,” Pederson, the chair of the Transportation Committee and chair of the Committee on Seattle Transportation Benefit District, said.

Public transportation, he said, was a necessity.

“Because I believe public transit is an essential and affordable option to move the most people in the most environmentally friendly way as our economy recovers, I’m thankful the Mayor and a unanimous City Council agreed to provide Seattle voters with the option this November to renew funding for the successful Seattle Transportation Benefit District during these challenging and uncertain times,” Pedersen said.