SEATTLE - Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is scrapping a proposed property tax levy that would have raised $275 million over five years to pay for homeless services.
Murray told the Seattle Times editorial board Monday that he is moving away from the property-tax idea in favor of a 2018 county ballot measure that would boost sales tax to fight homelessness.
Murray had pitched a potential property tax levy in August as a way to raise $55 million a year in new taxes to fight homelessness. Backers of the proposed citizens' initiative have been collecting signatures to qualify the measure for the August ballot.
"Today, along with King county executive Dow Constantine, I’m announcing a 2018 ballot measure for a 0.1 percent regional sales tax that will allow us to raise millions more, and will allow us to do much more as part of a comprehensive response to collectively take responsibility, in Seattle and King County, for those who are living unsheltered, those who are suffering from addiction, those who are being exploited by crime and those who are living in limbo that is more like a place that is leading them to hell versus a home," Murray said.
Murray said Monday that partnering with the county on a 0.1 percent sales-tax hike would raise about $67 million per year, more money than a city levy could. An average household would pay $30 more in sales tax per year for the homelessness initiative in King County. It would also give the city and county more time to make reforms to its current system.
"I am convinced that being bolder, going bigger and acting regionally is the only credible response to this growing crisis—a crisis that has many causes: addiction and housing affordability and mental health; a crisis again that is cut to cuts at other levels of state government; and a crisis that risks growing even bigger with the new administration’s proposals to radically cut the Office of Housing and Urban Development," Murray added.. "We are working on a new approach, family by family, name by name, person by person, versus a collection of different approaches."
Watch a full report by Elisa Hahn on KING 5 News at 5pm and 6:30 p.m.
KING 5's Liza Javier, Elisa Hahn and Nick Turner contributed to this report.