July 6, 1998
$600 million plan on fall ballot
by Andrew Walgamott
EVERETT--Snohomish County voters will get the final say on a $600 million tax plan to improve roads, buy land for parks and open space and improve water and sewer facilities.
Last Wednesday, the Snohomish County Council approved placing five separate measures on the November 3 ballot.
The package, to ensure county infrastructure keeps up with growth, has been likened to King County's Forward Thrust initiatives of the late 1960s.
It includes three different types of tax hikes for a 10-year time period.
Here's what is proposed;
- a property tax increase of $.85 per $1,000 of assessed value to raise $345 million for transportation projects;
- an increase of $.10 per $1,000 of assessed value to raise $40 million for park and recreation projects;
- an increase of $.06 per $1,000 of assessed value to make water and sewer improvements.
- a gas tax increase of 2.3 cents per gallon to raise $60 million for transportation projects;
- and a real estate excise tax increase of .41 percent to raise $130 million to buy conservation areas, open space and control storm water runoff.
County Councilmembers Barbara Cothern, who represents part of Bothell and southwest Snohomish County, Kirke Sievers, council chair, and Rick Larsen, voted to put all five measures on the ballot.
Councilman Dave Somers, who represents Maltby, Clearview, Monroe and southeastern Snohomish County voted to place all but the water and sewer issue to a vote. A proposed $16 million water pipeline to extend south of Clearview was scrapped from that measure.
The only Republican on the council, Gary Nelson, voted against placing anything on the ballot.
The plans were proposed to the council by ASCENT 21, a civic group comprised of business, political and educational leaders whose initials stand for Addressing Snohomish County's Environment Now and Tomorrow for the 21st Century. The group, in existence since last year, identified $2 billion worth of needed improvements. They will now campaign for the measures.
It will be a long, hard battle to convince voters the package will equitably collect and distribute revenues, as backers say it will.
Recently, the Bothell City Council shied away from endorsing the package. Mayor Debbie Treen said she didn't think there was equity for the city. Other councilmembers worried that the plan would make existing property owners and residents pay for future development.