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Seattle City Council to vote on $1.55B transportation levy over $1.7B proposal

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(The Center Square) – The Select Committee on the 2024 Transportation Levy is recommending a $1.55 billion transportation levy to be presented to Seattle voters this November rather than a $1.7 billion levy.

Transportation Committee Chair Rob Saka’s amended levy proposal increased Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s original bill totaling $1.45 billion to the $1.55 billion package that is now up for a final vote next week.

The eight-year levy package is expected to cost a median homeowner in Seattle approximately $546 a year if passed by voters.

Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales proposed an alternative transportation levy bill totaling $1.7 billion over eight years. This would have cost a homeowner of a median value Seattle home approximately $594, or $48 more than the $1.55 billion levy package.

Morales’ package included increased funding for traffic safety as the rate of traffic deaths have continued to increase in the city on an annual basis. Morales listed the names of 16 people who were killed in a traffic-related incident through July 2 of this year. This includes a motorcyclist who died in a collision on Aurora Avenue North on Monday night.

Fatalities on Seattle streets peaked in 2021 with 31 deaths. There were 27 traffic-related deaths in 2023.

“We can’t put a price on safety and safety comes in all forms. We have the power to do something about all of these collisions and deaths that we keep hearing about,” Morales said in the committee meeting on Tuesday.

Ultimately Morales’ proposed amendment was denied by city councilmembers. Morales and fellow Councilmember Cathy Moore were the only two committee members who voted for the levy increase. Seattle City Councilmember Dan Strauss abstained from voting.

Seattle City Council Chair Sara Nelson voted against Morales’ levy package due to her concerns that the levy could become too pricey and ultimately lead to Seattle voters rejecting it this fall. In turn, the city would not have dedicated funding for transportation needs.

“That would be disastrous for our growing city,” Nelson said.

Nelson added that Seattleites have been moving out of the city due to the increasing cost of living.

Saka’s $1.55 billion levy package went through seven committee meetings in two months before it was given a do-pass recommendation on Tuesday.

The levy proposal is set for a final full Seattle City Council vote on July 9.

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