Transportation Chair Saka proposes changes to Seattle transportation levy to prioritize safety, economy, and climate

Seattle City Councilmember Rob Saka (District 1, Chair of the Select Committee on the 2024 Transportation Levy) proposed his initial amendments to the transportation levy package today. Among other things, the Chair’s amendments would double investments in creating new sidewalks and safe routes to school, as well as triple funding for safety on public transit.

“It’s time for us to deliver the everyday basics in an extraordinary way. These changes will help us do that by better prioritizing safety, spurring economic growth, and building infrastructure to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Chair Saka.

“We can’t take this responsibility lightly. We need to be invested in the nitty gritty details. Importantly, my amendments include vital guardrails that will make this levy more accountable. My amendments will increase oversight and enhance transparency to ensure that we’re spending every tax dollar effectively and efficiently. They will also create a new program to make sure that our most vulnerable groups, like our elderly, low-income, and disabled veterans, are made aware of tax relief programs that are all too often underutilized,” Chair Saka concluded.

What the amendments would do?

Prioritizing our safety, economy, and climate

Among other things, compared to the current proposal, Chair Saka’s proposed changes would:

  • Double the investment in creating new sidewalks in areas that don’t have them
  • Double the investment in creating safe routes to schools to keep Seattle’s kids safe
  • Triple the funding to increase safety on public transit
  • Add $10 million for new investments in electric vehicle charging stations to address climate change
  • Add $20 million for a freight program to keep Seattle’s supply chain and economy moving
  • Add $7 million to the District Project Fund to ensure the unique needs of each council district can be met better and faster.

Helping the working class

Chair Saka’s amendments would include funding to help mitigate the effects of the transportation levy. The amendments would include a new $1.5 million fund for community outreach and education about property tax exemptions for qualified seniors, people with disabilities, and disabled veterans.

Increasing accountability, transparency, and good governance

The changes will bring the total package to $1.55 billion, compared to $1.45 billion under Mayor Bruce Harrell’s proposal. That will bring the anticipated annual property tax bill from the levy for the Seattle median assessed value home to $499, compared to $469 under the mayor’s proposal.

Chair Saka’s amendments would increase accountability for that spending. The amendments would, among other things, add $1 million for vital auditing and professional services, implement more detailed spending requirements, and strengthen the levy’s oversight committee.

What’s next?

The Select Committee on the 2024 Transportation Levy will meet Tuesday at 9:30 AM and discuss Councilmember Saka’s amendments.

The committee will also be hosting the final public hearing on the Transportation Levy at 4:30 PM. People interested in participating can attend in person at Seattle City Hall or sign up to give public comment virtually. Please help spread the word!

Once approved by the committee and a vote of the full Council, the transportation levy renewal will be sent to a vote on the November ballot.