• ST3 leading with huge margin; property taxes expected to increase

    By: Casey McNerthney


    Sound Transit 3 – the most expensive transit package in Washington State history – is leading in the polls after a second vote drop early Wednesday morning.

    Yes votes were ahead with 425,148. No votes totaled 346,854. Those numbers included King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

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    Sound Transit 3 attracted the most money for a local contest with the campaign supporting it largely funded with money from big corporations, engineering firms and constructions that would benefit from it.

    Passage of ST3 passed would lead to a significant property tax increase. In Sammamish, where average appraised home values are close to $700,000, the city estimated a typical household would pay $872 in additional property taxes.

    Planning designed Sound Transit 3 to go as far south as DuPont, and as far north as Everett. It also would serve Kent, Auburn, Issaquah, Renton, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Woodinville and Bothell, among other cities. Follow this link for a full map.

    Related >> Sound Transit 3 could cure Seattle's transit envy, but will traffic improve?

    For the entire Sound Transit district, which includes everything but rural King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, the agency estimated the typical household would pay $326 more in taxes per year.

    That number comes from the per-adult estimate of $169, multiplied by 1.93, the number of people Sound Transit says is in the typical district household.

    Sound Transit's estimate is based on a median home value of $360,658, which is above the average value in Pierce and Snohomish counties, but $110,000 below the average in more populous King County.

    The ST3 effort was pushed by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine, who is the chair of the Sound Transit Board. Both were in attendance for the March grand opening of the Capitol Hill and Light Rail stations which cost taxpayers $858,379 – including $28,000 for tote bags and more than $13,000 for lanyards and other items for VIPs – according to The Seattle Times.

    Related >> Wait until 2041 for ST3 light rail? Some locals aren't happy about that

    Donors gave $3.7 million to support Proposition 1, compared with the $317,000 raised to oppose it. Microsoft was the largest donor in support, while Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman's Kemper Holdings has given the most to opponents.

    History of rejecting local transit plans

    In 1911, the Bogue Plan outlined a train station on the south shore of Lake Union and a transit tunnel under Lake Washington linking Seattle and Kirkland. Seattle’s three newspapers at the times – The Seattle Times, Post-Intelligencer and Seattle Star – all editorialized against the Bogue Plan, and it was defeated on March 5, 1912, with a vote of 24,966 to 14,506.

    This year, the Seattle Times – the city’s last remaining daily print newspaper – editorialized against Sound Transit 3, saying the measure would commit voters “to a lifetime of taxation for a $54 billion project with unclear benefits and little accountability.”

    >> Read previous coverage of Sound Transit 3 funding

    Seattle’s streetcar system was disbanded on April 13, 1941 after lacking funding for maintenance and service improvements.  

    On May 19, 1970, King County voters rejected four bond issues that work have created a regional rail system, along with other civic improvements. There was $900 million pending for the mass transit measure. The total local cost for the efforts – called Forward Thrust – was $615.5 million

    Only 46 percent of people voted for the mass transit measure. The federal money planned for King County went to Atlanta to create the MARTA system, and local voters instead approve the Metro Transit system on Sept. 19, 1972.         

    On Nov. 4, 1997, 53 percent of voters approved an initiative that called for an expanded Monorail system with 40 miles of new rail. In 2000, voters approved another monorail plan – one of four supportive votes for an expanded Monorail system. But in 2005, after huge cost overruns, Seattle voters killed the plan. By 2006, the plan had cost taxpayers more than $120 million without any expansion of the Monorail.

    Information from The Associated Press, KIRO 7 reporter Graham Johnson, and Historylink.org is included in this report.

    Get complete election coverage from kiro7.com

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