This Washington

Former Mayor Royer: Safeco Tax Isn't a "Loophole"

By Erica C. Barnett September 30, 2011

Former Seattle mayor Charles Royer, who sits on the board of the public facilities district that oversees Safeco Field, echoed comments by state Sen. Ed Murray in an email to PubliCola today, saying the city of Seattle had no excuse not to know about a provision (first reported on PubliCola yesterday) in a new state law giving the district the right to levy its own parking tax at the Safeco parking lot, preempting the city's parking tax and costing the city between $200,000 and $300,000 a year.

"This is not a 'new tax' or a tax 'loophole," Royer said. "No one will pay more taxes as a result of this legislation." (That's true, but the loss of revenues from the city's 12.5 percent parking tax will mean a real, tangible financial hit to the city. Safeco's 10 percent tax goes right back into the stadium, paying for capital improvements and repairs to that facility. The city's parking tax, in contrast, pays for transportation maintenance across the city as a whole.)

"This amendment was part of legislation that was introduced at the beginning of the 2011 legislative session," Royer continued. "No one was trying to hide the ball from the city. Similar legislation was introduced during the 2010 legislative session ... but that bill did not pass."

City officials have said they were unfamiliar with the Safeco amendment, and council president Richard Conlin accused Safeco of outright "stealing $200,000 from" the city.
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