SEATTLE – Seattle City Council members are now sorting through 10 proposed changes to the mayor's massive transportation levy that will go before voters this fall. The Select Committee on Transportation Funding meeting Tuesday ran two hours long as council members sorted through an array of amendments.
One of them, proposed by Councilman Nick Licata, would decrease the $930 million levy by $330 million. Other funds would come from a commercial parking tax and an employee's hours tax.
The local chamber of commerce wants the council to oppose that and stay with the original broad-based funding proposal.
"Not everything we want is in the proposal for sure, but as we see it through extensive and collaborative discussions, you now have before you a package which a broad array of the community can support, including the use of a property tax," said George Allen senior vice president of government relations for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce "The Move Seattle proposal reflects the sentiments of a broad array of citizens of our city including the use of the property tax."
Council members spent a big portion of Tuesday's meeting discussing the Safe Routes to School Initiative. It started in 2007 by funding Bridging the Gap initiative, aimed at making it safer and easier for children to walk to school. Councilman Tim Burgess introduced an amendment that would increase the funding from $48 million to $68 million and prioritize the first work to a dozen schools in the city's most impoverished neighborhoods.
"For a long time in our city and our country we tend not to pay attention to areas where poverty is concentrated and this is a very deliberate amendment to address that issue," he said Tuesday.
Brianna McDonald, a mother of three who lives in Wedgwood, wants the council to closely consider funding for Safe Routes to School. Her street doesn't have any sidewalks and believes city staff should look at improvements to make treks to nearby schools safer.
She thinks the current proposed levy has its pluses, but needs more to address neighborhoods.
"It's a start, but it doesn't take care of our neighborhoods," she said. "It takes care of our urban villages. It takes care of our main thoroughfares the infrastructure that is essential to the daily movement here in our city."
McDonald is hoping for more oversight as well.
"If and when the Seattle levy is passed - that the funds are going to be able to be managed properly," she said. "Our tax dollars - if we're going to incur this cost as a homeowner - that our tax dollars will be well spent and not mismanaged because that has been issues this city has faced in the past."
The committee meets again on Tuesday, June 23. Click CLICK HERE to read all of the amendments.