Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More Than a Decent Proposition?

Submitted by Paul Ellis

Next Tuesday, voters in several Puget Sound jurisdictions will decide ballot issues that may offer a preview of the public's appetite for funding the tri-county Roads & Transit Plan.

Tacoma's Proposition 1, which would raise property taxes by 48 cents per $1,000 of assessed value each year for the next six years, would help Pierce County's largest municipality improve streets in 6600 blocks city-wide. Seattle voters have their own Proposition 1, part of a broad package dubbed "Bridging the Gap" and slated to add 36 dollars for every $1000 of assessed value to generate $361 million over nine years for local transportation improvements (very broadly defined). King County Proposition 2 would increase the sales tax by one-tenth of a percent to raise $568 million over the next 10 years for deployment of as much as 20 percent more Metro Transit buses on the road.

Poll after poll in the region ranks traffic congestion as a top drawer issue for Puget Sound voters, but Tuesday's results will reveal how vital the issue really is as citizens "vote with their pocketbooks." Some political insiders worry government is asking for too much, too late--and all at once. Some now worry that voter pushback to the current proposals could jeopardize next year's long-awaited efforts on the Roads & Transit Plan.

Paul Ellis is lead staff for RAMP; an employee of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, Ellis led the Pierce County Transportation Advisory Committee (PCTAC), the community’s largest transportation planning effort.

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