Earlier this week, I posted a question on Facebook, asking people what they wanted to see if the Mayor’s budget.
Responses ranged from more neighborhood policing to no more road diets to a sustainable funding plan for parks.
On Monday, Mayor McGinn unveiled his proposed 2012 budget. The Mayor’s proposed budget includes some major parks support including, $5.5 million for upgrades to Building 30 at Magnuson Park, and the use of Parks Levy inflationary funds to pay for roof maintenance on a number of our buildings.
The proposed budget also includes a variety of cost cutting measures aimed at closing an estimated $18 million revenue shortfall.
There was one item in particular, however, that really caught my attention: Mayor McGinn wants to spend $1.5 million from the sale of an SDOT maintenance yard to begin planning for “high-capacity transit planning.” Light rail from Ballard to West Seattle?
When asked about this specific line item at a press conference, McGinn said, “Now, some might say that this is not the right time for new transit investments and I have to say, I agree. The time was about two decades ago.”
With all due respect to the Mayor, I think he’s off a bit here. The right time for these investments was 43 years ago with Forward Thrust. In 1968, voters decided against the 80% federally funded program that would have given us 47 completed miles of rail around our city and region.
20 years? 40 years? Who’s counting?
I want to invest in an effective transit network. In fact, that’s why my Council colleagues and I supported putting the $60 vehicle license fee on the ballot for this November so we can fix what needs fixing and complete what we started. During deliberation on this legislation, we discussed our transit needs and where light rail design fits in with long list of other infrastructure improvements facing the City.
Planning for transit is important: the problem is we have an array of projects that are in the works and need to be completed – such as connecting the First Hill and South Lake Union street car lines. We also have many streets and bridges that need to be repaired and maintained.
I think we can make vast improvements in our transportation system if we invest in the things that people want and the things that we can do now! Like Neighborhood Greenways. These are relatively inexpensive ways of connecting neighbors to schools, parks and business districts.
They offer alternatives so we feel good about walking and biking too.
Budgeting is about priorities. Now, you know one of mine. Perhaps we will see this as a priority in the Council’s proposed (and adopted) budget.