What’s the plan to turn Seattle around?
December 21, 2023
As we countdown to the end of 2023, we are also counting down the last days of extreme progressives controlling the Seattle City Council and pushing their irresponsible policies onto the citizens.
We also countdown to when six new councilmembers will be sworn in at the start of the new year. Most of these newly elected officials won their position by condemning the reckless policies of the past council which eroded public safety, allowed homeless encampments and open drug use (with record-breaking overdose deaths) throughout the city, retailers closing shops due to multiple thefts, skyrocketing housing costs, higher taxes, and a staggering budget deficit which will force future councilmembers to make some extremely tough decisions.
The new “moderate” Seattle City Council will have plenty of work to do to correct the many politically motivated mistakes made by Councilmembers Kshama Sawant, Andrew Lewis, Lisa Herbold, and company.
As we previously informed Change Washington readers, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek brought together 50 individuals with diverse backgrounds to provide recommendations to spur Portland’s “comeback” after progressive policies had similar disastrous impact as to what occurred in Seattle. The Portland Central City Task Force (PCCTT) made 10 recommendations which covered public safety, drug use, homelessness, and taxes.
Among these suggestions is a three-year “moratorium on new taxes and offer targeted tax relief.” The PCCTT also called for the establishment of the Tax Advisory Group to “to study and evaluate improvements to our taxing structure.”
The task force recognized that due to high taxes (along with retail crime and unsafe working conditions), Portland was losing major employers. This resulted in the erosion of the city’s tax base and retailers were departing the downtown shopping district – leaving behind numerous boarded up store fronts.
Yet in Seattle, when faced with a similar exodus of businesses and a struggling downtown retail core, the current progressive city council decided to once again raise taxes on employers. A 6.5% increase of the city’s controversial Payroll Expense Tax was included in the council’s $7.7 billion budget.
Meanwhile, the city continues to face $221 million budget deficit in 2025 and a $207 million deficit in 2026.
The council’s move to increase taxes to balance the 2024 budget raised anxiety among employers that the city will again raise taxes to balance future budgets, solidifying a negative business environment which will lead to even more employers moving facilities outside of Seattle or even outside of the state.
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and the city council could alleviate businesses’ concerns by following the PCCTT recommendations and imposing a lengthy moratorium on new or higher taxes. Seattle businesses will need to know they will not be made financially responsible to pay for the careless budget decisions of extreme progressive politicians.
The mayor and council should develop a plan that makes reducing the city expenses the top priority to balancing future budgets.
The city budget was $4 billion in 2013. A decade later it has nearly doubled to $7.7 billion (with tax collection going up 94%!). With this rapid expansion there are certainly plenty of expensive failed policies which can (and should) be cut (or eliminated). or example, the city council in 2021 reduced the size of the Seattle Police Department budget and spent millions on ineffective community policing efforts. The council should demand proof that this money is being spent wisely before spending any more tax dollars funding this disastrous policy.
So once again, we ask, “Where is the plan?”
In both the 2021 and 2023 elections, Seattle voters have clearly stated they are fed up with extreme progressive policies which only make problems worse.
There are many Seattle businesses which are struggling and are currently determining if the new “moderate” city council will stop the continuous attacks employers have experienced from city hall during the past decade. Mayor Harrell and the councilmembers should alleviate these concerns and release their plan for how they will erase the large deficit caused by irresponsible financial decisions made by the previous councilmembers.