City Hall

Advocate Says Tunnel Agreement Won't Protect Human Services

By Erica C. Barnett July 21, 2010

Dorry Elias-Garcia, head of the Minority Executive Directors Coalition, says the MEDC and other human-services advocates aren't convinced by arguments that cost overruns on the deep-bore tunnel won't impact funding for human services. City council staffers say any overruns (under a state law staffers argue is unenforceable anyway) will be paid for by a new property tax, not out of the existing general fund, which pays for human services. "There is no reason [requiring the city to pay for overruns] would threaten the revenue sources” for human services, council central staffer Ben Noble told the council Monday.

But Elias isn't convinced. "We have a serious concern, should this tunnel move forward, about the cost overruns issue, because the unintended consequence of that could potentially mean" cuts to human services, Elias-Garcia says. Asked about reassurances from the council that cuts won't impact human services, Elias-Garcia said, "We're not experts on how all of that works—we don't typically get involved in transportation issues"—but that "we know how these things work ... When cuts have to be made, human services are always first." The MEDC, along with other human services groups, supports changing state law to remove Seattle taxpayers' responsibility for cost overruns.
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