As the City Council prepares to consider Mayor Murray’s plan to avoid most bus service cuts in Seattle, Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant seek to replace the sales tax component. The $60 Vehicle License fee would join an employer “head tax” and higher commercial parking taxes:
We expect the amount of revenue generated from these two taxes to equal what would have been collected by the increased sales tax… the head tax could be easier to administer by eliminating the array of exemptions that were previously applied when it was enforce [sic] from 2006 to 2009. As a result, the rate could be significantly reduced. The commercial parking tax would be increased from 12.5% to 17.5%.
Perhaps the best thing about these revenue sources are that they can pass with Council action, allowing immediate action, reducing uncertainty, and avoiding the effort and cost of a campaign. The parking tax has much more scope to reduce driving than a vehicle license fee, as paid parking usually exists where transit alternatives are robust. Licata also suggests that his proposal is “more progressive” than sales tax.
In spite of the earlier potential start, the September 2014 cuts would still occur.