• Are higher taxes coming to Seattle?

    By: Essex Porter

    Updated:

    SEATTLE, Wash. - Promising that decision must be driven by "data, not tradition" Seattle Mayor Ed Murray laid out his $4.8 billion spending plan for the next year.

    The mayor did not call for new taxes today, but they may not be far behind.

    One of his biggest investments goes to a proposed new Office of Education and Early Learning, more than $48 million.

    For Murray, it’s a long-term solution to a persistent problem — crime.

    And the mayor is investing directly in public safety as well, more than $3 million to hire 50 additional police officers by the end of next year.

    “By the end of 2016, we will have the highest number of fully trained officers in the Seattle police department's history," says local NAACP leader Sheley Secrest.

    “We want officers that have a relationship with the community.  We're not looking to be over policed."

    Murray noted the city spends $35 million a year on homelessness, but still has 2,300 people on the street every night.

    “Even in the face of this city's considerable investment, the persistence of this problem must cause us to admit that our approach is not working,” the mayor said.

    He’s ordering an audit to find out why and make improvements.

    Murray says tax revenues are growing, but not fast enough to meet all the city’s needs.

    “Even as our local economy has recovered, we have not seen a strong rebound in city revenues," Murray says.

     

    Though the mayor didn’t propose new taxes in his speech, they may be coming.

    Councilmember Nick Licata is chair of the budget committee.

    “Perhaps commercial parking tax, maybe head tax, maybe looking at impact fees, maybe linkage fees," Licata said.

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