courtesy of Sound Transit Video on Vimeo

146 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: ST3 Funding”

    1. Facing forward in the cab at the bottom of the windshield?

      I don’t know what Link and King County Metro call those, but around here they are called the “train number” (even in TriMet’s buses that’s what they are called). It indicates what slot on the timetable that particular train or bus occupies, and what timetable it should follow.

      In the Puget Sound area, I think this is only visible on the public timetables used by Sounder.

      It gets to be too cumbersome to say thongs like “the train that is scheduled to leave SeaTac at 6:42 am” rather than “train number 62”.

      1. That makes sense; thanks for the answer. For some reason I was under the impression that the train wasn’t actually on a fixed schedule for most of the day since the timetable says things like “every 6 minutes”.

      2. Pretty much any system is scheduled. That schedule may not be publicly published or commonly published. The employee timetable probably covers things like when the train is supposed to be at a certain critical time point, deadhead runs, etc. with the transit tunnel not allowing buses and trains to intermix well, they have to have some sort of times separation of the buses and the trains, so the timetable what time a certain train needs to be at the tunnel entrance to avoid conflicts with the bus schedules and all that.

      3. Glenn, some of us who’ve been with the DSTT since it was on the drawing boards and have never seen it run as designed for a single hour in 26 years would give a lot to have your description be true.

        The Tunnel was designed and equipped for staging supervisors, one in each of the “control towers at the portals, to be able to dispatch vehicles into the tunnel from their control boards.

        Metro may have tried it for a couple of weeks at most, then decided it was good enough if everything that went in eventually came out the other. In the same week. Ever since, every suggestion for any improvement- most of them neither hard nor expensive- has been answered with a reason why two and two can’t be four.

        As to schedules and run-cards, I’ve had bus drivers tell me that their instructions are to run on their schedule time, exactly same as on the street. Any Friday pm rush, you don’t need Julian Assange to tell you result.

        Way it should be handled, starting first shift tomorrow morning, is standing order that between portals, signals and supervisors’ orders supersede run-cards. With hours and pay calculations shifted, with whatever contract adjustments necessary, to accounting. Not operations.

        Any suggestions, Glenn, for making DSTT work per your understanding, you could save us a lot of wasted operating hours however much or little time joint ops have left to go. Good time and place for us to meet in Portland?

        I’d like to interview operations people on the tramway for possible posting. STB now authorized to give you my contact information.


      4. I wish I knew the answer.

        Here in Portland the city has insisted on keeping a 1970s decree that forces TriMet to operate almost all us routes in downtown on 5th and 6th. Before 2005, it was a horrific mess as the street just doesn’t have enough capacity. Even in 1992, it could take 45 minutes to travel from PSU to Union Station.

        So, the bus tunnel has many things going for it, even now.

        Solving the problem? Within what limits?

        Is the convention center going to need the lower level of CPS, or is there any prospect of keeping some transit activity in that space? Some stuff could be done there, but if it is impossible to save even a small portion of the station then it won’t work for very long.

  1. I wish ST was honest with their PR pieces on what ST3 is gong to cost in new taxes.
    “The typical adult in the Sound Transit District would pay $169 per year or $14 per month in new taxes.” (Video above and
    $14/month sounds pretty reasonable until you break it down.
    The new taxes of $27 billion over 25 years works out to $1.1 bil/year.
    There are 3m people currently in the ST taxing district, and it’s expected to grow to 3.8m by 2040 (
    The census breakdown shows only 65% of those in the 20-65 age range, so the typical adult becomes a pool of about 2.5 million adults in 2040.
    Therefore, $1.1 B per year in new taxes, divided by 2.5 million taxpaying adults is $440 each, NOT $169. I’m at a loss how they have twisted simple math to come up with their number.
    Now, to be even more transparent, they should double that number to $880 per adult for two reasons.
    1. All the other sources of revenue they aren’t counting ($24.3b) are really NEW taxes also.
    . $8.6b in extension of taxes beyond current limits for current projects.
    . $11 b in bonds, payable beyond 2040 by those same adults.
    . $ 4.7b in new federal taxes payable by … those same taxpaying adults in future years.
    2. A midpoint in population between 3m and 3.8m over the next 25 years is a more appropriate estimate to use as early years taxes are paid by fewer adults,
    So, inflate the $880 to something just under $1,000 per year per adult, and now we have a clearer picture of what voter will be paying.
    If ST3 can’t justify itself on reasonable statements of cost and benefit, it’s no better than a current national politician spewing hate and simplistic solutions to real problems – and we have a lot of real problems to address in the next 25 years.

    1. Ok, Mic, let’s have some more budget figures. Like for instance if you’re an attorney- lot of people have second careers if they survive transit driving- what are you going to do when your traffic-created billing time exceeds the budget of all nine planets?

      Which will lose you current protective shield of not having enough money to make you worth a single teaspoon full of ground-up radioactive slag from whole latitude of arctic strip-mines owned by a certain Presidential candidate’s current senior partner.

      Whose cost benefit analysis shows comparative cost-disadvantage of an AK-47 round. Also, given Seattle’s real estate situation, all the condominiums in Chernobyl are already unaffordable. OK, you explain appearance. behavior, and hair style of Vladimir’s long-lost brother.

      Da Svidan’ya, Mikhail!


      1. My comments in no way make any judgements on the current benefits of building ST3.
        It does take ST to task over their $169 per adult estimate as to how they came up with that figure.
        Where is my logic grossly wrong, as the $169 seems fictional as well.
        $169 per adult, times 2.5 mil adults, times 25 years is (drum roll) $10.5b, not $27 or 54 billion.

    2. People get lost in the numbers, and if you can’t tell how ST got to $169, I can’t tell if your numbers are any better than ST’s. We’d need an accountant who knows transit-project expenses to review ST’s plan and perhaps interview ST for more details to verify it pencils out. The biggest questionable thing in the video is that if you don’t look closely you might think, “My bill will be $169”, but that’s really just an average, so some people will pay more and some less. But we can look at the tax sources to say who will pay more: people who buy more goods, have more cars, or have more expensive houses. People who have those are richer than others, so that works out. Your point #1 only makes partial sense:

      – Extending an existing tax is like extending a school levy or other levy. It’s not “new” in the sense that the amount you pay will go up, which is what ST is talking about, and what people who wonder whether they can afford it care about. It just means it won’t go down to zero as originally planned.

      – “Payable beyond 2040” doesn’t matter because we’re talking about annual cost, not how long it lasts. Bonds are complicated and it would be nice to have an expert weigh in on what this pie item means. Bonds are a cash-acceleration scheme, not a funding source, so it seems like the bonds don’t belong in this chart.

      – “New federal taxes”: what new federal taxes? ST3 doesn’t change the federal tax rate. The way grants work is use it or lose it. Either we get the grant or it goes to another city. There’s not an option for paying less federal taxes if we don’t get the grant.

    3. We own an $818K house, three cars (cheap cars, but three cars), and earn over $130K (top bracket on the ST calculator.) Total tax estimate comes to $526/year for two people–well over the $169 quoted.

      But it’s clearly cheaper than the cost of the cars. We spend about $1800/year on maintenance (a seven year average), about $1800/year on insurance (it still annoys me that I pay for three cars even though we only have two drivers!), and about $4400/year on payments for the new car (the interest rates were too cheap to not get a loan.)

      All told, $8000/year for cars versus $526/year for a train is no comparison. This ignores the cost of gas (we don’t spend much on gas) but it also ignores the cost of time spent walking to/from the train, waiting for trains to arrive, etc.

      Note that the ST3 tax calculator is a bit sketchy in giving the cost per adult. shows the total cost at $577.18, and also points out that ST1 and ST2 are already costing me $583, for a total of $1160.18/year.

      So my cars are about 7 times more expensive than the train. If I take the train once a week, it’s a deal, yeah?

      1. What I need to know is, what am I going to have to do without if ST3 passes? Because if it doesn’t, I’ll have to do without my car a lot sooner.


      2. AP, I am not getting your point. If you took one train trip per week, that would not reduce the money you spend on your 3 cars, much at all. It would have zero effect on your insurance or your car payments. And almost no effect on your maintenance.

        So, in effect, you would be paying around $1,160 per year (plus fare for those trips) for 52 train trips, or around $25 per train trip (assuming a $2.50 fare per trip).

        This is a deal for you — $25 per train trip? How many trips per year do you take, in total, in those 3 cars?

        Another way of looking at it is this: ST3 allows you to take one trip per week on a train that you could take on a bus if ST3 fails. So, you are paying $1,160 per year to take 52 trips per year on trains instead of buses. Again, is that a “deal” for you? A train trip is worth about $22 more to you than a bus trip (I am assuming that bus fare is the same as the train fare)?

      3. Chad, I’m not asking for a cost reduction on my cars. I could reduce that cost easily by giving one or two away. I’m saying that I choose to spend a ton more on cars than the train would cost. When I compare the cost of the train to what I already spend on transportation it doesn’t seem to me to be a lot of money.

        I could compare the amount of money I spend on the train to the amount of money I spend on Netflix. That doesn’t make quite as much sense to me.

      4. But, in order to make any sort of sensible comparison, don’t you need to calculate cost per trip, or cost per mile?

        By just comparing the total cost of your cars to the total tax cost to you of ST3 you are implying that you only take one trip per week in your 3 cars, total.

        That’s like saying “I spend $20,000 per year on airplane tickets but only $8,000 per year on my cars, so driving doesn’t cost me much.” But, if you flew 20,000 miles and drove 8,000 miles that year, then the cost per mile was the same.

        You should divide the cost of your cars by the number of trips per week you take in the 3 of them total to come up with a comparison that is in any way valid.

        Also, any trip you could take on a train if ST3 passes you could take on a bus if ST3 fails. So, all you are “gaining” if ST3 passes is changing one trip per week from a bus to a train, for $1,100 per year, or about $22 per trip.

        Those are the sensible ways of looking at the cost to you of ST3.

        “When I compare the cost of the train to what I already spend on transportation it doesn’t seem to me to be a lot of money.” But the train only gets you one trip per week. What percentage of your total trips is that?

        And, of course, for the majority of taxpayers who will never take a trip on an ST3 train or bus, the taxes they pay for ST3 is just money down the drain for them, no matter how much or how little ST3 costs them.

      5. Chad, I don’t disagree. Given the amount I will use the train, especially given my age, it doesn’t make a ton of sense for my personal usage. I will be happy to see other people riding transit to free up the roads for me ?

        My post wasn’t to make an argument. It was more “huh, I wonder what we’ll pay” combined with noticing a lack of actual numbers on this thread. I don’t care about another $500 in taxes. I’ll pay it for the public good. This was all about finding some way to contextualize the number.

        Maybe it would make more sense to compare the cost of ST3 to the cost of the public library. I don’t use it and it costs me a bunch of taxes.

    4. median vs mean

      There are more people with cheaper homes/cars/spending habits than there are people with more expensive homes/cars/spending habits.

      So when you look at the median individual, the cost is low. Below them the cost is lower. Above them, however, the cost scales with ability to pay. So if you own a 900k home (not too out of the norm in some parts) you’ll pay 3x higher property tax than the median. If you own a luxury vehicle, you’ll pay a lot more MVET.

      The taxes implemented scale with lifestyle, as any progressive tax should. And that’s why your numbers are off. Even though there are less people driving a 60k+ value vehicle in the tri-county area, the MVET addition on that vehicle is the equivalent of 12 median vehicle values.

      Oh how I love that I took a lot of math classes in college. Really pays off in comment sections!

      1. More fun with numbers?
        The video says nothing about mean, median, or average, but coins a new statistically clouded term of ‘typical’ – whatever that means.
        Smoke and Mirrors perhaps.
        Taken on face value, and what politicians will be handed in their talking points .pdf will be $14 per month or $169 per year.
        Maybe this ls Lake Wobegon, where all the adults are typical and the children good looking.
        Easily debunked campaign literature like does not help skeptical voters on the largest regional tax increase to go before them.

      2. mic, can you explain why you think a mean makes more sense, or is in some way more honest, than a median in this case? I can see an argument that they should have been more precise and said median instead of typical, but anyone with a rudimentary understanding of statistics should be able to see that in a high-inequality region of a high-inequality country in a high-inequality era, median conveys typical a lot better than mean does.

      3. I didn’t say I preferred one over the other, only that using ‘typical’ as a measure may sound good but is pretty meaningless (no pun intended) when the average person considers the cost to their family. When doing the math of x number of typical adults divided by 27 billion over 25 years is intentionally misleading voters into thinking its one thing and not 3 or 4 times more than expected.
        Tell the average family of mom, dad, and a couple of kids their tax bill is going up $2,000 each year for the next 25 years, and you’ll get a different response.

      4. Tell the average family of mom, dad, and a couple of kids their tax bill is going up $2,000 each year for the next 25 years, and you’ll get a different response.

        Yes, but the point you’re avoiding here is that “average” in teh sense that you’re using it is misleading in an era of significant and growing economic inequality. (Any time Bill Gates walks into a bar, by your math, the average patron is a billionaire.) By treating mean as “the average family” in this way you’re being considerably more misleading than ST.

    5. Federal matching funds for these types of things are hardly new taxes, and are obtained nationally rather than just the Puget Sound region.

      Your taxes helped build MAX down here. They also helped build North Star commuter rail in Minnesota. Now, you get a chance to have everyone else help pay for your light rail line.

      Assuming, of course, that ST3 meets federal grant requirements. It’s really hard for me to think it won’t. Despite dp and RossB talking about how bad ST3 is, and no matter how correct they may be, the competition for federal grant money isn’t so great in quality projects.

      1. That one’s easy. ST will qualify, and it will compete well even if winning is not guaranteed. It will qualify because ST knows the criteria and they probably haven’t changed much. ST wouldn’t waste time submitting a bid that didn’t qualify (as in some ST2 segments), and it wouldn’t include it in ST3 if it didn’t have a high chance of winning. The CEO used to be with the FTA and knows what qualifies.

        As for competing, remember that it’s competing against other US projects. Which other city is building an urban-centric line of the sort RossB recommends? I can’t think of any since DC, and that’s unique because Congress is directly affected by the quality of DC’s circulation, it wanted to build something that would impress foreign diplomants so they wouldn’t think the US was so backward that their children couldn’t get around the capital, and it was a different era. Pugetopolis will compete well not so much because of the details of the line but because of the large transit market: we’re 12th or 13th in population and 5th or 6th in ridership per capita, and the geographic barriers make transit more necessary, more well-ridden, and force people to travel further in linear corridors.

        The biggest risk for ST is that Congress might cancel the grant program and put the money into highways, and a President Trump might not veto it.

      2. A President Trump is a very scary thought.
        A bigger risk is the R’s keep the House and Senate and President HRC bargains away substantial transit funding in favor of crumbling roads and bridges rather than hold out for both.
        At least Mr. Obama tried to move into the new world with High Speed Rail, but we see how far that went.

      3. Which other city is building an urban-centric line of the sort RossB recommends?

        Essentially, this is my point.

        There are a couple of revitalization and expansion projects that could happen in Chicago and New York City. They really need to get wheelchair access to more stations, and Chicago is looking at its first L extension in some decades.

        There is a $120 billion plan likely to be on the ballot in Los Angeles in November, but a lot of their best transit areas are already served. However, there is a lot of population spread over an awful large area there so they might have some projects that will compete well.

        Other than these, the competition for good projects doesn’t seem especially strong. In most places, the stuff that is best served with a rail transit line is already being served with a rail transit line.

    6. Mic, you have made a very simple mathematical error in your calculations. To explain where you made the error, let’s try to apply your logic to federal income taxes to figure out the “typical” tax bill paid by americans.

      The federal government took in $3.7 trillion dollars in taxes in 2015. There are 124.6 million households united states. By your logic, we can figure out the typical tax bill by dividing the total revenue by the number of adults. Let’s try that:

      $3,700,000 million / 124.6 million = $29,695

      What is strange about that number Mic? The median household income in the United States is only $51,939. According to that logic, most families must by partying 57% or more in their income to the federal government.

      In fact, not a single person pays that much as a proportion of their income. Dividing the amount paid by the number of payers is not a good way to get the “typical” amount paid.

      Why? Because some people have vastly more wealth than the typical person. Those people pay vastly more in taxes. When Mark Zuckerberg pays a huge tax bill, it brings up the “average” taxes paid, but it doesn’t effect YOUR tax bill.

      This is a basic statistical fact, which occurs in a wide variety of situations where the “average” value doesn’t match the “typical” value. That’s why statisticians use different measures of “average.” Mean, median, and mode.

      The way sound transit is calculating the typical payment is using the MEDIAN. Median is a better measure of a “typical” value because it is designed to prevent outliers like Mark Zuckerberg from changing the value too much.

      1. I understand what you’re saying, but using the Federal budget isn’t relevant to a local spending issue on several levels.
        1. Income taxes account for less than half of the Federal income stream. Business’ pay about half the bills, and that just doesn’t scale well at the local level. Yes, ours pay some sales tax, but not much.
        2. Federal income tax is highly regressive, with the top 1% paying 25% of the income taxes, and the top 20% paying almost 3/4 of the taxes. Again, that doesn’t scale well to the local situation where sales tax, and now MVET will do the heavy lifting. Our uber rich can only spend so much at Costco or going out to dinner, nor do they have 100 cars each.
        3. The Federal government will spend 50% more than it takes in this year alone – over a trillion dollars. Our laws do not allow local agencies to do that, thank goodness.
        Yes, median is a better measure than average, but I suspect ST is again painting a rosy picture for the ‘Typical Adult’, whoever that may be.
        Anyway, Martin has started a new war against anyone who thinks $54b is a stretch for the Puget Sound to absorb, while ignoring huge problems in all other areas taxpayers are asked to pay for. So, this thread is now DOA. Bye.

      2. “Federal income tax is highly regressive”
        It’s actually highly progressive. Poor people pay a much smaller share. That’s good. And it works that way (though slightly less so) with property values and expensive cars.

    1. I rode the train that arrived at UW Station exactly at 11:00. From Westlake north, I didn’t see a single identifiable football fan.

      The stadium, however, was growling like a large husky about to happily eat- was going to say polar bear, but have been told they really eat cats. Watch it, WSU.

      So my take is the LINK did its job perfectly. Noticed interesting thing on my train between Sea-Tac and my coffee-stop, though. Four car train. First two cars, standing load. Third, lightly seated. My own fourth car- about seven.

      Good evidence that my plan for one car per train with folding benches, improved bike-hooks, and luggage securements will probably work.

      Mark Dublin

      1. That makes way too much sense for ST to do it. Got to have an operator’s cab on both ends of the middle cars too.

    2. I didn’t go, but I was with some people later in the day that did go and did ride Link and they said it was spectacular. They would normally either drive or take the game day shuttles and they said Link was far superior to either option.

      Will be interesting to see the final numbers for the day.

    3. A good measure of how well Link worked is how many less Husky Special buses Metro ran because of all the fans taking light rail. Does anyone know how many special trips Metro cut yesterday?

      – Sam.

      About Sam. Was once part of an experiment at Apple headquarters to make the iPad both read and walk.

      1. Several years ago, a young woman walked into the side of a moving LINK train while texting. Absolute proof, Sam, that you invented both iPads and walking.


      2. You’d have to start with how many special buses Metro used to run from from the areas Link serves now: Capitol Hill, Rainier Valley, Tukwila, and SeaTac. My recollection is zero; they were all from Northgate and the Eastside.

      3. Mike Orr – Don’t forget all the Husky Specials from Federal Way, Star Lake and S Renton P&R.

      4. “Does anyone know how many special trips Metro cut yesterday?”

        Yes, Metro does.

        But I’m pretty sure the number of trips was part of a contract with UW, and Metro probably had to run a specified number, even if empty.

        As I mentioned the other day, there were no shuttles from downtown, unless you want to count the extra trains rolled into service as “shuttles”.

        Also, Metro plans to continue running the Federal Way shuttles through the whole season, even after Angle Lake Station opens. It would be nice if they could amend the contract and run those shuttles between Federal Way and Angle Lake. I think that would draw more shuttle ridership, and enable fuller use of Federal Way’s sea of parking.

    1. Well, the whole European continent must be flooding their every religious sacred place giving thanks on their knees they’re safe. Especially the atheists.

      However, History’s most benevolent occupation is represented by Deputy Mayor Sadiq Kahn and everybody else from the Indian subcontinent who forgave centuries of arrogant tyranny and moved to a cramped little island with miserable weather to save the inhabitants from their own food.

      Hate to think what “Bubble and Squeak” even is. Maybe digestive results of eating it. However, looking at Boris (how’d the Russians let either his name or him escape alive to disgrace both the name and them?) I suddenly see why Donald Trump is so vehement about not letting Muslims in.

      Because if the Deputy Mayor has a relative over 35 born here…a couple of our best Presidents were literally forced into office by their parties over the men’s own protests. Would anybody even bother with a bet on November’s outcome?

      But really a win-win for our own candidate who probably looks just like Boris when his own corset’s at the cleaners. Because he’ll have someone to both blame for the dangling cableway of a country he’s leaving us, and to thank because he’ll have too much sense to waste time arresting Donald for joining ISIS.

      Thanks for the link.


    1. Wrong, we need to vote NO!!! Slick non-factual videos won’t fool me again!

      ST needs to get the message that not everyone is for this, but if you are then you should be paying for it with higher fares, not by taxing homeowners out of their home in Seattle.

      1. Homeowners in Seattle are being taxed out of their homes by huge increases in property values. ST3 isn’t really going to make any difference in that.

      2. Wrong, the increase in our property values does not create one more cent that I care to give to ST. The increase also means that we in Seattle will be paying a lot more of the ST bill and most likely more than we will get out of ST3.

        There is absolutely NOTHING that will change my NO VOTE ON ST3!

      3. Actually, no- all funds raised in the North King subarea (AKA Seattle) stay in the subarea- that’s subarea equity for you. In fact, you’re being subsidized by the other subareas.

      4. Also, higher fares don’t work and hit poor people who depend on transit the most. Better to tax the rich with a property tax, since they own the expensive houses and Sound Transit can’t do an income tax.

      5. I am not rich and yes I own a home, but I can’t afford to give ST $20,000 over the next years since I need that money to live on and I’m retired. Do you want to force seniors out of their homes? Please don’t tell me about the phony/useless senior property tax options!

        You too may face the problem when and if you live long enough to retire. If you want ST expanded then, your should pay for it just like users of the 520 bridge pay a toll! The I90 tunnel is also a toll road. Your logic says that there should not be tolls.

      6. Reg N,

        You aren’t going to get any traction on this blog. When the chairwoman of the NoSt3 campaign is Ginny Scantlebury and wanted to be Sewer Commissioner, well then it’s time for you to stop putting quality time with working families & quality transit in the sewer. I can pay a bit more sales tax for more transit.

      7. You forgot about the Property Tax increase or don’t you pay any. I hope you never have to face the problem seniors have who own their home, but can’t afford the increases in property taxes! Senior don’t get increases in their income!

        I am not looking for traction, but I am looking for some reality when it comes to ST3 being not good for all!

      8. It’s about the same tax authority as the Port of Seattle has.

        What tax rate do you think would be fair for transit improvements? $0.05 per thousand?

      9. Glenn,

        I had a 25% increase in my property tax this year as a senior and I don’t qualify for the $40,000 income reduction option. BTW, the $40,000 is gross income minus Copays only! You can’t live in Seattle on $40,000, even as a senior.

        There is no property tax increase that I can accept on a fixed income since I’m maxed out and can’t see myself getting a job since I’m 74! For this reason, I’m forced to vote NO on any increase in property taxes. Yes, my house value has gone up, but that is NOT A LIQUID asset like cash!

      10. “You too may face the problem when and if you live long enough to retire…. Do you want to force seniors out of their homes?”

        Younger people will be less likely to have a house in the first place because they can’t afford them. Instead they’ll be seeing rent increases putting them on the edge of homelessness and beyond. So when homeowners complain about property-tax increases or upzones it’s a little angering because they’re much better off than the rest of us, and they do have a half-million dollar asset they could sell and downsize their living situation, rent out a room, or buy a house in another city.

      11. I was on the fence about ST3, mainly due to the lack of a Ballard-UW line. Aside from outstanding technical analysis on STB (thanks to Zach, and Martin, and the other authors), I was convinced by the opposition from the Seattle Times and Tim Eyman. As long as they’re against a tax or transit measure, I can be convinced that it is actually for the greater good of the region. After 10 years of living here, I have yet to be proven wrong.

      12. I might support increasing fare to “cover their cost” once gas taxes are high enough to cover the cost of our road system, which is currently be subsidized by our property and sales tax to the tune of 45% of all road spending.

    2. I found it fascinating to watch the poll oscillate wildly between Yes and No as the responses came in.
      At ~n=100 it was 75% against, then after Joe’s plea above moved to the opposite outcome at n=250.
      We’re now at just over 500 responses and it’s back to 55% against ST3.
      Must be time for another twitter to get the right results to stick.

      1. At noon on Monday, the No’s were leading by 56% to 41%! This poll is good news, and hopefully, Sound Transit will listen, I expect a similar vote in November.

      2. Why should ST think that a PSBJ poll that 90% of voters have never heard of and is skewed toward a particular kind of reader, is representative?

      3. “This poll is good news”
        This is a non-scientific poll. Just like how Seattle Times commenters don’t actually reflect the population.

  2. Mike,

    There is another option, and that is to VOTE NO on all property taxes! Another option is to come up with a way for seniors to stay in their houses without being taxed to the point where they are forced to sell.

    Seniors have paid their taxes for years and should not be burdened with added expenses that they can’t afford. Your options may work for some, but not for most and most seniors. It’s easy to tell people to leave if they don’t want to give all their income up in taxes!

    1. You realize you’re expecting younger generations to pay more in taxes to keep you in a home they could never dream of being able to afford? That’s a losing argument.

      If I was a senior with a home in Seattle I’d sell it in a New York minute, use my one time capital gains exclusion, move to the ‘burbs and buy a nice rambler in a 55 and older community, and still have enough extra to go on a cruise every three months or so.

      1. Julie B, not polite to ask how old you are. But good bet that your present unhappy housing prospects are pretty piddling compared to the life in general your grandparents spent their working lives paying to give you.

        Your quarrel is with your parents’ generation- Lord, I wish they’d get the self respect to stop calling themselves “Baby Boomers”. Who voted themselves two political parties both holding that anybody who actually worked, in the traditional sense, had no claim to a decent life, and that “merit” meant good grades at an expensive school.

        Get active grass-roots in politics- you’ve got the basements of your choice of major parties to mop out and fix- and you’ll leave your descendants a better memory than present Presidential candidates and their cohorts left you.

        And when you get some power, as you will, you can steer the transit system that’ll make your own working years a lot easier and more productive, to your goals and needs. To be both elderly and original: “You young people don’t realize how good you’re going to make things!”

        Mark Dublin

      2. I’m sorry to see that some on the blog still want to get rid of the seniors in the community since they slow down the buses, ask for convenient bus usage and can’t afford additional property taxes. Would you like a city where people have to leave at age 55?

        Hopefully, you who want this will live to be at least 55 if not 65 so you can start understanding what seniors are dealing with. We paid for the what you have today, so it’s time you pay for what you want in for transit in the future!

      3. Oh really Julie buy another home. So easy for you to say that but just try to do what you are suggesting because senior citizens can’t afford to do that.

        Just wait until you get to be a senior citizen and you will find out very quickly what it is like to be on a fixed income but it isn’t a fixed income because the cost of living and taxes keep going up because people in Seattle have never found a tax they didn’t like. Well except one when they voted no some years ago when there was an initiative to put a 10 cent tax on specialty coffees like you buy at Starbucks and the voters said no. Yes you can raise our taxes all you want but dammit leave our coffee alone.

        I am right there with Reg because I am in the same situation he is in and like him I am voting no and it isn’t just ST3. I have voted no on any ballot issue that raises taxes for the past several years and will continue to do so in the future.

      4. Jeff,

        Thank you for voicing your opinion on the STB despite several people on the blog who attack anyone who does not support their desire to have light rail from ST which they don’t have to pay for!

        There are other ways to fund this, one being for other cities doing what Seattle has done in Move Seattle. So why can’t there be a Move Everett or the like for the rest of the area?

      5. Actually, I have a lot of sympathy for what seniors go through. However, I am also realistic enough to realize that the taxes imposed by ST3 are not going to solve the problem.

        The problem is the extremely steep increase in property value assessments. ST3 vs no ST3 gives you what? Another two or three weeks in your home before you get priced out anyway by the ridiculous increase in property values?

        Failure of ST3 doesn’t solve the particular issue that seniors have in any sort of meaningful way. ST3 would only be a very tiny fraction of a huge property tax bill, and in the end you would still get priced out of your home.

        It isn’t just a problem for seniors, by the way. A huge number of lower income people are being priced out of cities across the west because of the rapid rise in housing costs, including property assessments.

        None of this is going to be solved by adding or subtracting $0.50 per thousand in property taxes. A much more complicated set of changes needs to happen in order for your particular situation to be solved.

      6. Jeff,

        I’m just saying what I would do if I was a senior with a paid for home in Seattle. My in-laws sold their Oregon home and have a lovely, low-tax place in Yuma. But that’s them.

        It’s difficult for people at all stages of life in a rapidly appreciating housing market. It’s difficult for people with a fixed income to pay increasing tax bills, and it’s difficult for 20-somethings trying to break into the market. But, if you’re asking me to compare the plight of a senior sitting on $800k of equity and increasing tax bills and a 20-something looking at never attaining home ownership because he’s priced out of the market, the 20-something is going to get my concern every time.

      7. Reg,

        My in-laws absolutely love living in Arizona, and are horrified at the commute my husband is forced to make because housing is so expensive here. I absolutely have empathy for seniors’ concern about property taxes, but I also have empathy for people who have grueling commutes, or who are permanently locked out of the housing market.

      8. @ Julie,

        It has become difficult for senior citizens and younger people to live in the greater Seattle area because of the rising costs of doing so.

        It is no fun to become a senior citizen but I am glad that I am not someone in their early 20’s who is trying to start a career, buy a home and start a family. It is very hard with the salaries that are being paid and with the rising cost of trying to buy a home in Seattle,. I have a family member who tried to buy a home and finally found one that they could afford in Tacoma near Spanaway. With their jobs one is lucky as they work in Tacoma but the other one does have to commute to Seattle. It is not a good situation for them but also for other families who are in a similar situations.

        You mentioned that your in-laws love in living in Arizona and that is great but for others moving away from friends and family is not going to work for them.

        I am voting no on ST3 not that I don’t see the merit of the plans being proposed but there is a limit on how much tax a person like myself can pay as it is not only ST asking for taxes but it seems that the Seattle City Council is continually asking for tax levies for various projects. Then you have the various school districts with their levies plus requests for tax increases from other government agencies.

        The point that Reg and I are making is enough is enough and somewhere people like Reg and myself are drawing the line in the sand.

      9. Jeff and Reg, I hate to tell you this but even if a single property tax increase is passed by voters your property taxes will go up if for no other reason than increasing property values.

        As was pointed out elsewhere the state is under court order to fix school funding it is very likely the legislature will greatly increase property taxes to do this.

        As for transit, seniors are but one part of the population served. Transit systems should not be designed as if seniors were the only or even just the primary customers.

    2. Reg, I don’t think a lot of people past their safe driving years will want to have to spend as much time in their homes as they will if they can’t use public transit. Especially if they still want to make ST-length trips, meaning cab-fare dwarfing propoerty taxes.

      One property tax adjustment really long overdue. Real estate speculation should be assessed at whatever percentage will cover absolute disaster inflicted by a market more gamble and demand than the usual cliche formula.

      I’m not talking about either tenants, homeowners, of landlords. I mean people why buy property with no intent but to hold onto it on the bet its cash value will go up with no effort of their own. Often keeping it empty. But bottom line, resulting in massive rise in prices.

      And the obliteration of decades of land-use planning. And resulting added cost to transit, along with every other public utility on both sides of the ground.

      It’s been established that being forced out of a long-time comfortable and beloved home is major cause of shorter life, and worth some tax money to prevent to prevent. Especially from generations who owe their lives and educations to people like my former neighbors at Lock Haven.

      Any speculator taxed out of business? Do what you tell your former tenants to do. It’s a free country. Move.

      Mark Dublin

    3. This reminds me of the scenario that staged California’s Proposition 13 in the late 70s– with disastrous results.

    4. You haven’t paid your fair taxes. When I hear seniors complain about high taxes here, the only thing I think is ‘you haven’t lived in any other state’. My parents, also seniors living in Illinois, pay 7500 in property taxes on a 300k home. My home here I pay 5k per year and could easily get 800k for it. Not to mention, their sales taxes are the same and they have a decent sized income tax. The whole eastern seaboard is just as bad. If I didn’t have to pay my mortgage, I could easily live in Seattle on 30k/year in my close to million dollar home. And no I’m not full of it, my wife and I track our spending religiously, and those would be our true expenses.

  3. This last exchange, including my own part of it, is exactly what the forces that hate all of us most love most to see. Real meaning of “regressive” in outlook as much as taxes. In the country ours is supposed to be, nobody should be forced out of their home to pay for the public transit they need.

    Same for everything else public, like schools (the whole State Legislature is in contempt of court for not funding them). In Detroit, retired working people are having their water turned off, as well as forced out of their homes, for being unable to afford water bills and city taxes.

    Most justified fury is from people whose own honesty and hard work makes them ineligible for the help received by poorer people. Who also deserve help without being hated for getting it. Lose that injustice, and one Presidential candidate will be back firing actors on TV, and the other without her strongest campaign argument.

    Washington’s taxes are among this country’s hardest on people least able to pay them. With strong voter approval. Why do our people fight so hard against the fairest tax- a graduated income tax? Also the tax easiest to adjust to be fair to everybody?

    As a taxpayer who is also a career public servant: What am I failing to understand? Good answer could change my position on ST-Infinity.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Why? Many want an additional tax on top of what we already have. Being in the community college system I have seen what happens with unchecked spending. We have spent an extra 4k per student over the last 4 years in state public schools and I get the word of “it’s still not enough”.

      I find that very hard to believe and the only way I would support such a measure is if it was revenue neutral. You would have to eliminate the B&O tax completely along with other taxes in order to make me want to even support such a measure along with a heavy dose of reform and better leadership. More money simply isn’t the solution. You have to look at targeted investments and performance measures to meet. If those measures aren’t being met, why continue them?

    2. I don’t object to giving seniors a property tax discount, or increasing the discount if as Reg N says it’s not adequate. That’s the same principle as as senior transit discounts and paratransit: a social program that mitigates unacceptable hardships in low-income people’s lives. But we must make overall transit decisions based on the good of everybody both now and in future generations, not just on the property-tax problems of a small number of seniors. If there’s a problem with seniors’ property taxes, let’s deal with that directly rather than making sweeping decisions that have a lot bigger consequences to avoid raising a few people’s property taxes.

      A good property-tax discount would last for 10-20 years on average so that elderly people can live and die in their homes, which is similar to how Social Security works. But Prop 13 goes much further than that. The tax freeze is now going on 36 years and it’s permanent and inheritable, until the house is sold. An onstensible elderly person who turned 65 when it passed would be 102 now, and there aren’t many people age 102. So it creates a multigenerational aristocracy paid for by those who don’t have houses purchased long ago. Those who don’t have a legacy house either don’t have a house at all, or even if they do it’s not the size or yard or close to the city center as the legacy house is. I’d like some kind of recognition that a tax freeze means we’re giving a few people an extraordinary subsidy, something that we’ll never have. It may still be worth doing anyway, as a gesture of decency to the WWII and Silent and Boomer generations who never thought housing and other expenses would become so expensive in their old age. I used to resent being the first generation whose standard of living is less than their parents, until I realized that my parents (1950s Silent generaton) also have a lower standard of living than they expected or than they used to have. So it hits one generation in their coming of age but it affects all the generations.

      This brings me back to Anu Partanen and “The Nortic History of Everything”, and how social programs, which some see as making people dependent on the government and lazy, are seen in the Nordic countries as freeing people from dependency on richer relatives or spouses, and giving equal opportunity regardless of which family you were born into. They see it as the logical conclusion of modernism, and that the US is way behind, hindered by social-hierarchical and religious-based expectations. If we’d just decided that housing and basic income and transit were rights available to everyone, then problems like having to choose between transit and staying in your house would not have come up in the first place. We need what Bernie said, and I hope that Hilary and a more Democratic Congress can take us at least partway in that direction. And strong unions like Mark said. Nordics and Germans have that too.

      1. My brother an I inherited our parents house in California recently, with a property tax bill of $350/yr on a 1/2 million house. Compare that to Seattle. It was tempting to move down there to inherit the low taxes, but decided to sell in the end. Jarvis Gann Prop 13 has bankrupt the state.

      2. No. The retired person living I the house that they now find is worth too much they can’t afford the tax can mortgage their house to pay the taxes. Or if they are trying to hold onto it so their kids can inherit it then they can get this kids to pay for it. No reason that I as a taxpayer and renter should subsidize someone’s inheritance!

        On top of this, the property tax in WA is so low I fail to understand how anyone here in their right mind can complain about it. My I laws pay about 3% tax on their crappy house in their NJ suburb. Home owners here have no idea how good they have it.

      3. Renters should not get out of paying for transportation improvements just because they rent. Why should I as a homeowner subsidize renters?

      4. Reg, you do realize that renters pay the same property taxes as everyone else? The only difference is, it’s baked into the rent, and the renters don’t even have a chance of deducting it from their income taxes.

      5. I realize that renters pay the property tax that is passed through the rent, but do renters realize that a YES vote on ST3 means that their rent will go up?

      6. Reg, rent has gone up far faster than property taxes have gone up. Transit expansion will open up new rental markets which will help stabilize rent. I’m not worried at all about the tiny component of rent increase that happens to be property tax increase. I’m far more worried about the lack of rental supply.

      7. Same proplem with renters that you currently have with your own house, Reg: $0.50 per thousand per year property tax on a $2,000 per month apartment will probably be barely noticeable.

        ST3 isn’t going to make a huge impact compared to the huge increase in property value assessments.

        The easiest way of restoring affordability would be to get the steel mill under the West Seattle bridge to mix some sort of non-toxic odorant into their smoke so the entire region smells like Dante’s Inferno.

      8. 2 thoughts about property taxes

        1 – If Seattle and the region are getting 25% more property tax income because of increased valuations, where is that new money going? How much of it is going to ST or Metro?

        2 – Whatever pain existing homeowners feel because of higher property taxes, new homebuyers feel a much bigger sting. Existing homeowners might pay an extra $1000-$2000/year in taxes, but new homebuyers are paying an extra $50,000-$100,000 because of bidding wars and feeding frenzies.

      9. You have no idea what an additional $1,000 to $2,000 a year will not impact retired people on a FIXED income. Just ask retired people in your neighborhood if they can afford the additional property taxes and think about what they should give up so they can pay that amount.

        Don’t forget that retired people still have the right to vote and we generally voter participation is greater than other age groups!

      10. Voting no on ST3 won’t really stop your property tax bill from rising. Assuming your house has an assess value of $500,000 that’s an extra $125/year from ST3. Much less than many thousands of dollars because Seattle’s real estate market is crazy.

        As a Seattle renter who was priced out of Seattle when looking to buy and is now buying a house in Lake Forest Park (and still had to pay $70,000 over the listing price), I have very little sympathy for those living in Seattle who are complaining that their house is worth too much.

      11. ST3 is about $0.50 per thousand. If your taxes go up by $1,000 per year due to ST3, then your house is about $2 million in assessed value.

        That extra $1,000 is a pittance, however, compared to all the other property tax items on a $2 million house.

        If it were me I would be trying to find a way to make money off of such a valuable asset as that.

      12. Reg,

        You’re certainly within your rights to oppose all tax increases, pocketing the sacrifices that previous generations made for you while denying future ones the quality education and infrastructure that they need.

        But for all your complaints about the troubles of seniors as a class, it’s worth remembering that they are the richest segment of society. You could have chosen to frame your pain as that of the retired instead of the low income, but then you have an enormous financial asset that you could easily monetize without leaving Seattle, either by downsizing or by a reverse mortgage or other financial product.

        Perhaps you’re interested in passing on your extensive assets to your descendants instead. That’s your right, but that will extract little sympathy from people who are struggling with both congestion and economic problems far more serious than yours.

  4. Here are some ST3 comments from the Seattle Times which have received very little attention on this blog. As you ma gather, I support the position of the Times and commend them for up serious questions about ST3, which no one else has done.

    “One of the big questions about ST3 is whether voters can trust Sound Transit to be prudent and make the right decisions, once it receives a blank check.”

    One of the big questions about ST3 is whether voters can trust Sound Transit to be prudent and make the right decisions, once it receives a blank check.

    The credibility question is important because ST3 changes the rules. Unlike ST1 and ST2, this measure creates a new property tax and permanent taxing authority for Sound Transit.

    If ST3 is approved as written, Sound Transit wouldn’t have to periodically ask voters for more support for decades. Those elections were a way to hold Sound Transit accountable during its first and second phases.

    That’s one reason this editorial board has suggested Sound Transit pause and come back with a leaner proposal for its third phase. Doing so would not halt major investments in the region’s transportation network, including Sound Transit extensions, such as light rail between Seattle and Redmond

    Other concerns include locking the region into a $54 billion spending plan that would take decades to complete.

    A prompt investigation into Sound Transit’s improper campaign assistance would help voters make an informed decision this fall.

    1. Calling it a blank check is quite inaccurate, since the entire reason they have gone through the past year developing and refining a list of projects for the ballot is so they will be listed on the ballot.

      Light rail to Redmond is not funded. ST2 only includes funding to get as far as Overtake Transit Center. If they mean “Microsoft” then they should say Microsoft rather than Redmond.

    2. You always have the option to sell your house and move outside of the taxing district if you so desire, rather than sabotaging out future.
      your 22 year old neighbor

      1. TGC,

        It’s comments like yours that have the Business Journal poll on ST3 going down to defeat a second time and the same will happen in November. Please keep posting your comments so the ST3 will fail!

      2. @TCG,

        Isn’t it just wonderful for you to tell us to move like that is easy to do. And I am sabotaging your future? Well good luck with your future because with the way costs are rising in this area pretty soon you won’t be able to live around here either. .

        But just remember that you are going to be senior citizen some day and won’t you be thrilled when you will be on a fixed income and find out that you can’t afford the things you used to be able to afford.

        And won’t you be thrilled when you are that senior citizen and some 22 year old tells you to move because you complain about rising taxes.

      3. Jeff,

        Thank you for speaking truth to those people in the ST3 ECHO CHAMBER!

        It should be made very clear that no one on this blog or Sound Transit has the right to tell seniors or others to move if they won’t vote for ST3. Also, you who think seniors are worthless have senior parents, and I dare you to tell them to move!

        This is still a free country I hope, and we have the right to vote NO on ST3 and any other taxing measure. One last point, a lot of Americans lot of money in the market crash eight years ago or have you forgotten that. It is hard to near impossible for seniors to re-coop the money lost.

      4. Too bad you couldn’t do a duplex conversion. If it is as valuable as you say you could probably rent out part of your house for a substantial sum.

      5. Well, that was my attempt at giving my senior neighbors some sound financial advice. I live here because of the jobs and education I can’t find anywhere else in the world, and it would be great if I could get to work and school on a train rather than in traffic, and that’s why I’m voting yes. If you are on a fixed income, moving out of Seattle to a cheaper place is a smart decision regardless of ST3. Seattle will always be more expensive than Yakima.

      6. Throwing seniors out of Seatle isn’t going to solve your problem since ST3 will be going down in flames this November. Your only hope is to be willing to pay for a new ST proposal after November that relies on the fair box rather than the homeowners of Seattle.


      7. I would fully support that idea the day all roads become tolled to support road packages “that relies on the toll booth rather than the homeowners of Seattle.”

      8. I would rather subsidize transit riders than your free money from the government and heavily subsidized health care, but I’m happy to do both.

      9. @Martin H.Duke

        I am going to say the same thing to you that I said before to others on this thread and that is you will be become a senior citizen down the road and when you do you will be changing your tune very quickly about free money from the government and subsidized health care.

        For one thing I worked for years and contributed to Social Security and I am now getting that monthly payment but if you think you can live on that good luck because you cant.

        And as far subsidized health care you are apparently not aware that there is a monthly premium for Medicare that comes directly out of your social security and that is $110 a month. You are also not aware that Medicare does not come even close to paying my medical bills or drugs and I have to buy a Medicare supplement that cost $300 a month in premiums and even then I still have out of pocket expenses that neither Medicare or the supplement pays. I am telling you all of this because you are not aware of what senior citizens face in medical costs.

        But that doesn’t surprise me because you only see the world through your rose colored transit glasses.

        Just keep in mind that you will become a senior citizen and then you will face the same thing that Reg and I and other senior face and you will then find out that that is like.

      10. If you had bothered to read my comment, you would have noted that I absolutely support subsidized programs for the elderly. But then I also don’t spout nonsense about fares covering all transit, unlike Reg.

        Nothing you said about Medicare disputes my contention that it is subsidized.

        If I am ignorant about being a senior citizen, you have forgotten what it’s like to have to get to a job on time, or house a growing family in a growing metropolis, or provide children a decent education. Because your radical anti-tax ideology is obviously indifferent to those concerns.

      11. If you’re poor, I sympathize. I support health care and cash payments for poor people, whether or not they’re 65.

        Currently, provisions for old people are better than younger people, including children, in the same situation. Medicare, for example, is much better than Medicaid.

        Bringing standards for the poor to the standard for all seniors, rich or poor, is going to require taxes. And that includes taxes on people with 7-figure assets, whether or not they happen to be senior citizens.

      12. Martin,

        Your responses to seniors raise a big question, are you speaking for yourself or the STB. For my part, I’m no longer sure where there is a separation. If this is not an open forum, then state such. If this blog is only to push the ST agenda, then state it!

        For my part, your comment “your radical anti-tax ideology” concerns me! I have voted for most funding measures in Seattle, but some of us who are not radicals have had it the continued need for money by multiple transit agencies including King County Metro, SDOT, and Sound Transit. Just look at what we’ve faced over the last two years. So as Jeff stated “enough is enough.”

      13. Reg, I haven’t had any trouble separating Martin-the-editor and Martin-the-commenter. Furthermore, no one has asked you to stop commenting. The only price we ask is that you accept the criticism good-naturedly.

        As for the ground-swell against ST3, Seattle’s Prop 1 speaks against that. Granted KC Prop 1 failed before, but that was before Link opened. As others have said, the tax burden in WA is extraordinarily low. You are unlikely to find a better deal anywhere else in the country. Meanwhile, the working people supporting your Social Security and Medicare need to get to their jobs to continue supporting you. Maybe you’d rather they go away, but then who would take care of you?

      14. Once again seniors getting Social Security are only getting what they paid into during their working years. Please stop stay we are getting something we didn’t pay for. I know you’re paying into Social Security, but you’re doing it so that you will have it when you retire!

        I know about Seattle traffic, but I and others don’t see how ST3 will solve it now on in 25 years. I spent 33 years at Boing with close to two-hour commutes to Kent to and from Kent Boeing.

      15. I don’t think a transit blog is the right place to get into the accounting for social safety net programs. As far as traffic though, there’s 68,000 people already using Link who would argue with you on its utility. As a senior, you can choose when and where to travel to a certain extent. People who work don’t have that flexibility, which is one of many reasons we need better transit.

      16. We did not bring up Social Security, others did. You need to understand that most seniors live on a fixed income, not like people working who get raises and who can switch jobs. You forgot that a lost of us lost a lot of money in the market crash in 2008, and it was not our fault or yours. Maybe your parents will help you understand the life of denial for seniors on a fixed income.

        As far as ST3, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, and I and majority of the voters in the three-county area will be voting NO! I have a right to vote not one more cent for anything!

        You must also remember that senior vote at a higher percentage than most voters!

      17. Reg, a lot of young people didn’t have money to lose in 2008 and still don’t, and what makes you think they work in jobs that give raises? At least Social Security is CPI-adjusted. You clearly have assets, so you should consider yourself fortunate.

        As for seniors out-voting the rest of the district, I bet there’s plenty of seniors who will benefit from ST3 (Redmond is only 8 years away) or who care about younger people that the bloc is not as unified as you think.

      18. Skylar, dream on, yes there are minor CPI adjustments to Social Security, but that is eaten up by increases to what we pay out of our Social Security for Medicare! Yes, we pay for our Medicare, since despite what some believe it’s NOT FREE for seniors.

        Once again my vote is NO on any tax increases, and you need to get over the speculation that seniors are rich since they may live in a house that they paid for. I will be voting No until our Washington State Legislature can provide a workable property deduction for seniors.

        Comments about ST3 changes in 8 years a funny and will not sway anyone to vote for ST3.

      19. @Martin H. Duke

        You should know that I worked for over 40 years in trying to support my family. In that time I was laid off several times and had to go on unemployment and just try to support your family on what that pays. I scraped hard and long to buy a home and saved as much as I could for my retirement but thanks to the economic crash in 2008 I lost over half of my investments. So don’t give me any BS that I don’t know that the hell it is like to try to survive. And no my wealth is not even close to 7 figures as it is a day to day thing to make sure I budget correctly and don’t spent more then I can afford.

      20. Jeff,

        If you stop making patronizing assumptions of what experiences I can understand and which I can’t, then I’ll give you the same courtesy.

        Again, if you are poor, then I think you deserve help from our social services regime. But that is entirely orthogonal as to whether you are a senior citizen or not. This thread is about Reg N’s contention that seniors deserve special exemption from taxes even when they have assets that most people can’t even dream of.

      21. Reg N, in two separate comments:

        “For my part, your comment “your radical anti-tax ideology” concerns me!”

        “Once again my vote is NO on any tax increases”

      22. Martin,

        Patronizing assumptions? Wrong because what you are assuming that this generation is the only that has struggles and that Reg and I did not. Well every generation had has difficulties and has had struggles to be able to survive.

        I was in Seattle working for Boeing in the late 60’s when they had their big layoff when employment went from 106,000 to 37,000 in about a year and half and I was one of those people laid off. When that happened there were no jobs to be had in this area and I had to move to California to find a job and leave my family behind. And you don’t think that was difficult and a struggle. You damn right it was.

        After a couple of years I found a job in Seattle and moved back to be with my family but the job paid a hell of lot less then I had at Boeing and we lived from paycheck to paycheck and sometimes we didn’t make it. So don’t tell me that my family and I didn’t struggle.

        I worked hard and as I said before it took a lot to be able to buy a home and at the same time save for my retirement. So I damn right as I worked had to have what I have today.

        And yes I am a senior citizen as I am 70 years old and no I am not eligible for any discount on my taxes because my monthly income is just above the eligible line. But that income barely covers my expenses besides my property tax. I have my utility bills and the City of Seattle has raised those each for the last 5 years and will do so again in 2017. That is water, sewer and garbage. My City Light bill doesn’t go down either and neither does my grocery bill.

        But you don’t want to hear that because you feel that only the current generation knows what struggles are to survive. Well you need to take of your rose colored transit glasses and see what the real world is all about. And when you do go to a food bank and see how many senior citizens are there to pickup food because that is the only way they can survive. I know because I have volunteered at the food bank and I am thankful that I am not at the point where I have to get food supplies there.

        And to others. No I am not anti-tax as I am happy to pay for police and fire protection or for things like 911 Medic One. But I do object to every special interest group that comes up with ideas to tax people for their special projects like the taxpayers are ATM’s with unlimited funds. Well we are not.

        As I said Martin down the road you will become a senior citizen and when you do you will change your tune.

      23. Martin,

        I FULLY agree with what Jeff said, and I would be willing to bet that other seniors agree with Jeff and myself.

        If you and the STB wanted to get our vote, then you should be posturing this board to support measures that make it possible for seniors to stay in their homes. For example, the $40,000 limit for a senior deduction may work in Yakima, but not in Seattle. There is no way for us to claim that since the only deduction we get is copays and the $40,000 is our gross income! The lien option is even more stupid.

        So do you and the STB want our vote, then help us survive and stop attacking us and saying it’s our fault we’re in the position we’re in?

      24. Reg,

        With all due respect, it’s clear that you wouldn’t vote for ST3 in any case. It’s impossible to change the tax composition now, even if we wanted to, and your lack of openness to any kind of tax increase indicates that you’re not going to support any sort of new transit investment.

        I’m sure that many seniors agree with you — that’s one reason that ST likes to go in presidential election years, where more voters care more about the future than the present.

        You keep claiming that I’m persecuting you, but I’ve said time and again that I’m absolutely fine with government assistance for the elderly. I’ve commented that senior citizens, as a group, are the wealthiest segment of society, which is true, and that it makes no sense to exclude seniors, as a group, from paying for this measure.

      25. Martin,

        Let me restate this; I’m asking the STB support a revised senior exemption that works for Seattle residents not just for Yakima residents. I know that this can’t be done by November, and I did not expect it to be changed now. The STB can support this in the future, especially after the defeat of ST3.

        I know taxation is not necessarily an STB issue, but as you must know that our taxation system in Washington State is screwed up. You are correct; there are some very rich seniors, and they should pay, and that is a problem that must be solved. You must also realize that school funding will have to be done in one way or another.

        As far as to whether I would vote for it, you are right my vote is NO right now not just because of the cost for me, but also because this is not the best plan which several others have expressed in previous posts.

        I have never accused your of “persecuting” anyone on the Board, but you have been very vocal when it comes to comments from Jeff and myself. BTW, do you think that ST will wait four years for the next Presidential election to resubmit a modified ST3?

      26. Hi Reg,

        STB will almost certainly not take a formal stand on a general tax reform issue, but personally I support progressive tax reform. The general principle (Yakima = Seattle) you express is one that I think I can get behind, although details obviously matter.

        To the extent you don’t like the projects in ST3, I disagree but that’s a different matter entirely from “I will vote against any tax increase” or “seniors as a whole shouldn’t have to pay for this because some of them are poor”. If those statements don’t represent your true position then we are arguing about the wrong thing.

        I do think that a no vote on ST3 will delay any action till at least 2020.

    3. It’s no different than ST1 or 2. It’s authorization for a specific set of projects, and after that the taxes are rolled back to operation & maintenance levels which is like a 90% reduction. The perpetual part of the tax was true in ST1 and ST2 also, an ongoing tax for operation & maintenance. Sound Transit itself intended ST3 to be a 15-year program like ST2. But the overwhelming public feedback was to make it bigger to give cities some certainty when they would get things. It was a serious flaw in ST1 and 2 that areas outside the projects had no idea when or if they’d ever get anything, so they couldn’t plan their cities around them.

  5. Do Metro drivers get any training/information– or are curious about– the routes they will be covering? When a passenger on the 44 this afternoon asked the driver to let him off at the closest stop to Golden Gardens, the driver replied that she had never heard of such place. The passenger was about ready to get off the bus when several other passengers intervened. (I remember that once upon a time Golden Gardens was a weekend Metro destination.)
    It would also be helpful if new drivers of routes that go through or near UW campus would familiarize themselves with at least the most basic landmarks there, especially this time of the year.

    1. Drivers must qualify on each route they drive. This can be as little as sitting near the driver and taking one lap along the line, or being really interactive to learn lots of details about the route.
      In other words, all training is not equal. Nor are all drivers with knowledge about the route, or willingness to be helpful.
      By in large, most drivers are very good at doing all of the above, so I’m sorry you had a bad experience.

  6. I’m a bit lukewarm about ST 3, particularly the Everett, Tacoma, and Issaquah lines, but, in the end, I will be voting for it because doing nothing is not an option, and if traffic and regional growth continue to happen, it is entirely possible that the very segments that seem like a boondoggle now could become increasingly important in 50 years, as development builds up around them. The subway segment between Queen Anne, SLU and downtown is needed yesterday, and I’m willing to pay a bit more in taxes to see that happen.

    I am also not sold on the idea that driverless cars will be a viable replacement for real mass transit, for the simple reason of road space and traffic congestion.

    By way…speaking of driverless cars and taxes, will a ride in a driverless Uber be legally classified as a “ride for hire” or as a “rental car”. If it’s the latter, the switch from human-driven Uber to driverless Uber would suddenly mean sales and rental car taxes of 17.5% (some of which goes to Sound Transit, so the rate would be higher if ST3 passes) getting tacked on to every ride. This would significantly cut into the cost savings from eliminating the driver, and make the autonomous ride business a lot less attractive.

  7. Lovely quote on the radio from the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, which opposes ST3. A spokesman said it doesn’t address things like somebody from Renton going to Bellevue College, or somebody from Issaquah going to Woodinville. He hopes that a defeat will cause ST will put together a plan to address things like that.

  8. Once again I simply cannot vote ‘yes’ on this plan. I am unwilling to subsidize others’ when I get significantly less benefit yet at far greater cost. I worked hard and with careful planning for the past 28 years to have a house, vehicle(s), etc. And now just because I happen to have accomplished some of my goals I am required give my resources away? All of this just because someone else wants to take a train to work instead of walk or drive? I had to walk or ride my bike to my first job here in the Seattle area. Start walking.

    1. Thank you for your defense of senior homeowners who paid for their homes and paid tax all those years. Its time for the next generation to pay up just like we did. BTW, stop thinking that our health care is free, it isn’t and goes up each year.

      It’s time that some on the board show some respect for seniors and allow them to live out their lives in their homes as long as they can do so. To take their money for light rail that they most like will not use is very very stupid and selfish on the part of some posters.

      If some of you want light rail so badly, then be willing to pay for it at the fare box just like drivers do who use the 520 bridge.

      1. “Its time for the next generation to pay up just like we did”
        Yeah, that’s why we’re voting for ST3. And that’s why we pay to keep your Social Security solvent, when we likely won’t get it ourselves.
        Why do do you think Gen Xers and Millennials are selfish… we’re not. We want nice things for many and we’re willing to pay for them.

      2. I paid into the Social Security fund when I worked, and I have every right to get that money back monthly whether you think it’s right or not! You are not giving me anything free!

        If you live long enough, you may get to be a senior and finally realize the real world of seniors and we are not all rich with liquid assets as you keep assuming!

      3. Also, the 520 tolls do not pay for the majority of the cost of that project. Gas taxes do, which is a shared cost of all drivers.

      4. You do not understand how Social Security works. It is pay-as-you-go, not a retirement account. People working today pay for your benefits. You paid for the previous generation’s benefits, but thanks to numerous trends the return you’re getting on that is phenomenal compared to what my generation will experience.

        I didn’t say you’re rich with liquid assets. I said you’re rich. As an age cohort, seniors are the richest segment of society. This is indisputable. Now obviously there are individual low-income seniors. My compassion for them is the same as for other low-income adults, and less than that for low-income children. In any case, seniors don’t deserve any sort of special ethical consideration or tax breaks simply for being seniors.

      5. I was correct in what I stated since I paid into Social Security like most Americans and had the right to get the money back in my senior years. I am not getting a handout as some on this board think; I earned the Social Security I’m getting, and I hope it’s still around when you’re a senior someday.

        If your logic held, then we shouldn’t be giving seniors anything including medical to reduced fares.

      6. If you live long enough, you may get to be a senior and finally realize the real world of seniors and we are not all rich with liquid assets as you keep assuming!

        There is a guy where I work who is old enough to not only remember Roosevelt’s “This Day will Live in Infamy” radio broadcast, but still have the radio on which he listened to it.

        He still works because his previous employer (a major telephone company) had its pension raided during the 1980s, leaving the workers without a whole lot to retire on. His medical benefits through the pension fund are through Kaizer, and it is a major undertaking to try to get them to pay for any sort of medical treatment.

        So, I well understand that many seniors have financial difficulties.

        He doesn’t count a $2 million house among his assets.

      7. The gas tax and other associated auto-specific user taxes only pay about 50% of highway construction and maintenance costs in this state. The rest comes out of the general fund, meaning even non-drivers are subsidizing highway projects (or, in other words, about half of everything spent on roads in this state could have been spent on something else–or eliminated–if drivers actually did “pay their own way”).

        We all pay for things that we don’t personally use or need; the well-being of the greater good is the price of civilization. I don’t have children but I damn sure want them to have the best possible education and am willing to pay for it–I’ve lived in parts of this country that don’t think that way, and we don’t want to go down that road. I heard enough people in South Carolina with the “I got mine; F you” and “I won’t use it so who cares if my neighbor needs it” attitudes, and let’s just say there is a reason the standard of living is so much lower for so many people in places where the majority feel that way.

    2. You know, if everyone who uses transit but also owns a car decided to start driving for every trip you might sing a different tune.

      Let me guess your house hasn’t caught fire so you don’t think you should pay for the fire department. If you don’t have school age children you probably don’t think you should pay taxes for schools. If you don’t use parks I bet you resent paying taxes for them as well. Etc. on down the line. Despite what some who subscribe to the “I got mine; so F you” attitude believe taxes were never supposed to be user fees.

  9. Not at all. I happily pay property taxes for mandatory services like schools, police, fire/emergency, etc. On the other hand I am not obliged in any way to accept or support optional services like the ST3 transit plan just because some few people want a train instead of a bus. People need to understand this and be realistic:
    Don’t have a car? Figure it out or walk.

    I live too far to walk or bike to work. Huh. Is that my problem? Really? Why should I have to pay for the consequences of your choices? Again, figure it out by using an existing service, carpool with someone.

    But I can’t afford to live near work. I say again, why is that my problem? I too had to find a residence I could afford and thus have to commute to work. Why do I have to pay to make it easier for you when it still doesn’t make it easier for me?

    But I can’t walk. I’m sorry, really I am (I’ve been there too). However, these services already exist. Some of these existing services need improvements but ST3 isn’t a package targeting these services specifically. Bring another proposition up for a vote that is smart and conservative and I’ll consider it.

    My point is that ST3 is designed neither fiscally, nor technically smart. Its absurdly costly, lengthy, and tangibly impacts only the extreme minority of potential commuters–certainly it doesn’t improve options for the greater good.

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