SEATTLE – Mayor Mike McGinn apologized to the Seattle City Council Monday for blindsiding them last week with plans to ask the public to vote on a tax increase to replace the Seattle seawall sooner than planned.
“I regret that we didn’t vet this a little more thoroughly with the council before releasing it because I think it may have gotten this discussion off on the wrong foot,” said McGinn.
Then, he briefed the council on his request to put a measure on the May 18 ballot, asking Seattle voters for $241 million in property tax increases to fix the seawall in the next four years.
The seawall is crumbling. McGinn says there’s a 1-in-10 chance it will fail in an earthquake. The current plan is to replace the seawall in six to nine years. McGinn says that’s not soon enough. That’s why he’s asking voters for the tax hike.
“If the seawall fails, the viaduct comes down with it. Tremendous loss of property and the potential for tremendous loss of life,” said McGinn.
The city wants to replace 3,500 feet of seawall between S. Washington Street and Pine Street.
Some council members are suspicious. McGinn is known to be against a deep-bore tunnel. The council supports the tunnel. The council already has a comprehensive plan for the seawall, waterfront and the viaduct. The McGinn plan would cover only the seawall repairs. McGinn thinks, by his own polling, that he’ll have the votes necessary to pass it.
Some believe he's trying to
If passed, the tax measure will raise 12 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. That would be $48 per year on a $400,000 home. Sixty percent must vote yes to pass the measure.