McGinn May Seek New Funding For Bike and Ped Projects, Including "Head Tax"

By Erica C. Barnett February 19, 2010

Mayor Mike McGinn, speaking to a group of reporters at City Hall this afternoon, said he would seek to "hold aside" tax sources such as the commercial parking tax, vehicle-license fees, and a possible transportation benefits district to pay for bike and pedestrian projects and potentially bus service as well. As we reported last month, funding for the city-adopted $240 Bike Master Plan is falling 70 percent short of that goal.

Pointing to hundreds of millions of dollars the city has already committed to contribute to projects like two-way Mercer, Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement, and the waterfront seawall, McGinn said, "My fear is that the taxing sources we have available for the bike and pedestrian plans, which could be a vehicle license fee or commercial parking tax, will be soaked up by" those big projects, McGinn said. "We need to to hold those aside from Mercer West and the seawall for moving toward financing bike and pedestrian improvements."

McGinn pointed to the need for bike and pedestrian funding as one reason he proposed a $241 million bonding measure to pay for seawall replacement. He said new funding could potentially be used to pay for new bus service, such as replacing the 42 bus, which was eliminated for light rail, in Southeast Seattle.

McGinn also said he'd be open to revisiting the so-called "head tax," which was repealed by the council last year. "I absolutely think the head tax should be in the mix, and we’ll convey that to the council," McGinn said. "We'll propose it, but they voted last year 9-0 to get rid of it, so I'm not confident they'll reverse position."
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