Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, February 25, 2008

"Seattle's a greedy, jealous, lustful bunch, says Forbes"

Not me. The magazine. Although I don't find it much of surprise. I mean, this is the city where a recent UW study found that land-use regulations added $200,000 to the price of a home, because "people with higher incomes want the kind of amenities that regulation provides," i.e. keeping out the unsightly underclass.

Also not surprising considering that the American Religious Identification Survey 2001 (ARIS), found that 25% of people in Washington say they have no religion at all, or call themselves atheist, agnostic or secular; the highest in the country. And the number of Washingtonians who said they attend church or synagogue once a week or almost every week according to a 2006 Gallup poll was only 32%, well below the national average of 42%. That ranks Washington 45th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in church attendance.

1 comment:

Mattwi said...

Check this out:

PI Today:

It was a costly day for shoppers, bus riders and property owners in Seattle and King County on Tuesday, as the County Council approved higher sales taxes, bus fares and more than $500 million in real estate levies to finance passenger ferries, flood-control projects, mental health services and transit operations.

None of the taxes or increases requires voter approval. They would raise annual household taxes by almost $90 for families living in houses worth close to the county median.

The measures will:

# Impose a property tax of 5.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for 10 years to pay for a county takeover of the Vashon Island foot ferry and for new passenger ferry service on up to five other routes on Puget Sound and Lake Washington. That tax would cost $22 a year for the owner of a home valued at $400,000. It would raise a little more than $18 million in its first year in 2008, with the annual yield rising to about $24 million in 2017.

# Levy a property tax of 10 cents per $1,000 for 10 years to pay for repairing and maintaining the aging countywide system of levees and dikes along rivers and streams. That tax would cost $40 a year for the owner of a $400,000 home. It would raise more than $30 million a year over the next 10 years.

# Increase the sales tax by one cent per $10 purchase for 10 years for a program designed to provide treatment alternatives to jail or hospitalization for substance abusers and the mentally ill who get into trouble, when appropriate. The tax would raise $50 million a year. It would cost the average family an estimated $25 a year.

# Raise Metro bus fares by 25 cents, the first increase since 2001. After a phase-in in 2008, the increase would generate close to $12 million a year.

Of the ferry plan, Councilman Bob Ferguson, D-Seattle, said: “This proposal is in many respects a back-to-the-future transportation proposal.”

Ferguson and other council members harkened back to the “mosquito fleet” of decades ago, when myriad small boats shuttled passengers across the region’s waterways.

“We don’t have a lot of choices and options about how to get from place to place,” Councilman Dow Constantine, D-Seattle, said. “Let’s move forward and bring back the mosquito fleet.”

The tax was approved 8-1, with Councilman Reagan Dunn, R-Bellevue, voting no.

After the meeting, Dunn said he is concerned about the cumulative effect of recent and proposed tax increases on the community. He also said the ferries would provide little or no benefit to residents of rural King County, many of whom live in his council district.

Last week, voters approved Initiative 960, which requires non-binding advisory votes on tax increases enacted by the Legislature that do not include a public vote for final approval. That measure does not apply to tax votes taken by counties.

The council, sitting as the board of the King County Ferry District, approved the ferry levy to:

# Take over the foot ferry from Vashon Island to downtown Seattle, which the state operates but will not support beyond 2008.

# Conduct two-year tests of five other ferry routes, beginning with one route in 2009 and adding another each of the next four years, with the potential to make them permanent. The routes have not been selected, but possibilities include two-way Lake Washington runs to central Seattle from Kirkland, Kenmore and Renton and Puget Sound trips to downtown Seattle and back from Shilshole Bay and Des Moines.

# Expand Elliott Bay water taxi service between West Seattle and downtown to a year-round operation, beginning in late 2010. The ferry, which runs from spring to fall, is operated by the county’s Metro transit system.

# Lease, and eventually buy, 149-passenger boats for the ferry runs.

# Build and maintain terminals.