Survey shows no support for new taxes as Seattle faces growing budget deficit

(The Center Square) – Survey results show Seattle officials may not receive much support from taxpayers as the city deals with a growing budget deficit.

The Seattle Office of Economic and Revenue Forecasts presented new data on Monday that revealed that the city’s general fund is now expected to be $44.7 million higher than originally budgeted in 2024, with expectations that city revenues will continue growing in 2025 and 2026.

But the city is still facing a projected budget deficit of $245 million next year, in part, as a result of the new labor contract with city employees to increase wages by 9.7% through 2024, and residents are in no mood for new taxes to help close the gap.

The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s latest survey of Seattle voters revealed that more than three-fourths of voting taxpayers do not want taxes raised in order to address the deficit. The survey was conducted in March when the city’s projected budget deficit was $230 million. 

The chamber’s survey – titled “The Index” – presented two statements to registered voters who participated in the survey. The first statement read “The city should work to offset the deficit by prioritizing government basics, supporting our city’s most vulnerable residents, and reducing non-critical spending before considering tax increases.”

The other statement read “The city should maintain the spending levels and programs in place today and raise new taxes to cover this [at the time] estimated $230 million deficit.”

The latter statement was only supported by 23% of the 700 completed interviews conducted last month.

“80% of voters believe the city of Seattle has enough money to address important priorities, it just needs to spend tax dollars more effectively,” Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce President Rachel Smith said in a news release. “Now, it’s time for the mayor and city council to follow the lead of the voters, roll up their sleeves and get to work.”

The survey results may point to some doubt that a newly announced levy renewal proposal would be approved by Seattle voters this November. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell recently announced a transportation levy proposal that would cost a Seattle homeowner roughly $36 a month, or about $435 a year, on a median-priced home valued at $866,000. The generated revenue would be used to repair bridges, repave streets, connect neighborhoods to the light rail and build sidewalks.

Last year, Seattle voters approved a housing levy that is anticipated to collect $970 million through 2030, or $138.6 million annually. This tax levy starts at 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $383 a year for the median Seattle homeowner.

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