Sammamish: Step up and take a position on ST3

st3-map

  • ST3 will take money away from Sammamish taxpayers to fix local transportation issues. See below the jump.

The Sammamish City Council needs to step up and take a formal position on Sound Transit 3, the $54bn cost, $27bn in new taxes for a 25-year construction plan that gives our city less bus service and a one-half billion dollar park-n-ride–maybe.

A front page article in The Seattle Times on Sept. 19 details the effort–and opposition–to extend light rail to Issaquah.

An editorial in the same edition details Newcastle’s recent Council vote opposing ST 3 for the very same reasons Sammamish should: taxation without transportation, as Sammamish Deputy Mayor Ramiro Valderrama so eloquently put it. The Bellevue Chamber of Commerce also decided to oppose ST3, reversing its support given for ST2. It likewise points to the extraordinary cost with questionable benefits.

The Comment opposes ST3.

Sammamish taxpayers face aggregate taxes of about $500m-$550m over 25 years if voters approve this enormous tax package. But ST3 proposes less bus service for Sammamish. It also proposes a park-n-ride at the north end, which is needed. But there is actually no guarantee in the proposal that this will be built–or that any of the other plans identified will be built either.

The only guarantee in ST3 is that voters are cut out of future taxing decisions. There is a provision that shifts taxing authority exclusively to the Sound Transit Board, which is appointed by elected officials but who otherwise have no direct accountability to voters. The only direct authority voters now have is approval or disapproval of tax packages. ST3 takes this away.

Sammamish City Council

In a survey conducted by The Comment, five of the seven members of the City Council oppose ST3. Only Members Bob Keller and Kathy Huckabay support the measure.

It’s time the Council take a formal position on ST3. Sammamish residents complain we need more local solutions to traffic problems and even suggest taking on debt to do so. If burdened with an average of $1,100 a year per household in ST3 taxes, financial pressure becomes greater on the ability to solve Sammamish’s own problems. As the City Council tonight takes up a discussion whether a building moratorium makes sense to give the City time to address local transportation concerns, ST3 is relevant because of the tax burden it will impose on Sammamish taxpayers–tax monies that will be diverted from local solutions in the name of regionalism.

Regionalism is fine if the plans make sense. ST3 hurts Sammamish.

In this case, the first priority should be Sammamish, not the region. Keller and Huckabay need to rethink their position. And the entire Council needs to step up and represent its citizens–not King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

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