[nfbwatlk] FW: [Urban Politics] Urban Politics #280, 9/25/09 MAYOR'S BUDGET & TUNNEL

Jacob Struiksma lawnmower84 at hotmail.com
Wed Sep 30 07:57:33 UTC 2009


-----Original Message-----
From: Nick Licata [mailto:Nick.Licata at Seattle.Gov] 
Sent: Friday, September 25, 2009 5:02 PM
To: urbanpolitics at speakeasy.net
Subject: [Urban Politics] Urban Politics #280, 9/25/09 MAYOR'S BUDGET &

Urban Politics #280, 9/25/09

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By City Councilmember Nick Licata


Today Mayor Greg Nickels presented his 2010 Proposed Budget to the City
Council. One of the major elements accompanying his final budget is
accompanying legislation to the Council requesting that we approve a
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the State signing off on $787 million for
the city's obligations to fund projects related to the bored tunnel. 

The Council is receiving this legislation eight months after he signed an
agreement with the Governor and King County Executive. The Council is
scheduled to take a week to evaluate his proposal and approve the MOA. 
The legislation will be introduced Monday and up for a vote Tuesday in the
Transportation Committee, with a final vote expected the following Monday.

There is something wrong with this picture. Why rush to sign an agreement
that is barely off the press? What is motivating this breakneck speed after
no action for months? I fear that the public may get the impression that the
current Mayoral election may have something to do with it. There is no clear
reason for the City Council to bypass our budget deliberations. 

The Council should act responsibly in considering legislation stating the
City's intent to enter into an agreement with the state and agreeing to fund
$787 million in City projects as part of the bored tunnel project to replace
the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The proposed budget includes $603 million, well
short of full funding. It appears that over 80% of the cost of the public
open space on the waterfront is not identified.

Voting two business days after receiving the Mayor's funding proposal falls
short of accountability standards we should be setting for ourselves. We
have eight weeks to consider the Mayor's budget; the MOA should grow out of
that work, not precede it. 

Seattle can be a good partner with the state by replacing the central
seawall, establishing a promenade on the downtown waterfront, completing the
Spokane Street Viaduct Project, and replacing utilities on the central
waterfront. Signing an MOA with the State on these items is a reasonable
step to take, but the Council should first determine how we are going to pay
the bill. The Mayor has released only the vaguest of plans, including
parking taxes, possibly increasing property taxes, and a new vehicle license

In 2008 the City Auditor cautioned about beginning large capital projects
without full funding in place. This agreement commits the City to a path to
begin capital projects without telling the public how this full funding will
occur; it goes against the spirit of the Auditor's recommendations.

The state legislature required WSDOT to report back in January with a
revised cost estimate for the bored tunnel (and prohibited awarding
contracts before that), and whether $400 million can be raised from tolling.
A 2002 study estimated $35 to $95 million could be raised. The legislature
required cost overruns to be paid for by Seattle property owners. This
agreement does not address this provision, and acting prematurely could
place Seattle taxpayers at risk.

It's time to do our homework. 


Tim.Burgess at seattle.gov
Sally.Clark at seattle.gov
Richard.Conlin at seattle.gov
Jan.Drago at seattle.gov
Jean.Godden at seattle.gov
Bruce.Harrell at seattle.gov
Nick.Licata at seattle.gov
Richard.McIver at seattle.gov
Tom.Rasmussen at seattle.gov 

Citizens are directed to the following website to complete a form to send an
email to the Mayor's Office.


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