On the Nov. 8 ballot, Bothell residents will have the opportunity to vote for or against Proposition 1, commonly known as the Safe Streets and Sidewalks Levy.
The nine-year levy would be funded through property taxes, at a rate of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. With a median home cost of $376,000, that amounts to approximately $16 per month or $188 annually.
This funding would provide approximately $4 million per year to the city, and in return, officials are prepared to deliver an annual report to residents explaining where the money is spent.
“We are going to be good stewards of their funds,” Bothell Public Works Director Erin Leonhart said.
Leonhart said the city has lost $1.2 million per year in street maintenance funding during the last 15 years due to the repeal of the motor vehicle excise tax, limited funding from property taxes and the recession in 2008.
The levy would help overcome the losses in revenue and make Bothell a safer place for car, bike and pedestrian traffic through funding a variety of different projects, city officials said. The money raised would help fund pavement preservation projects, sidewalk and crosswalk construction, asphalt patching and potholes, median and right of way maintenance, safety improvements, emergency operations (including snow and ice control) and signs.
The levy could help the city have access to Safe Routes to School grants, which provide matching funds to projects that make traveling to school safer for students, parents and staff.
“We can leverage these dollars,” Bothell Interim City Manager Bob Jean said. “If they vote yes, they can do a lot of good for a little money.”
Leonhart said several options for funding street and sidewalk repairs have been discussed, both with city officials and at open houses with the public last winter. She said the natural consensus seemed to be for property tax funding, as residents can write off their property taxes on their federal taxes.
When casting ballots, it may be easy for Bothell residents to get confused with the three different measures labeled with the number 1. In addition to the Safe Streets and Sidewalks Levy (City of Bothell Proposition 1), there’s also Sound Transit 3 (Sound Transit Proposition 1) and a fireworks measure (City of Bothell Advisory Proposition 1).
The Bothell City Council is considering eliminating the use of consumer fireworks on July 4, and the councilmembers want to know what residents think before they make a final decision. If a ban is enacted, it would not affect licensed public displays and wouldn’t be in effect until July 4, 2018.
Sound Transit 3 would fund expanded light rail service, faster bus service, more commuter trains and a long-term maintenance fund in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. According to soundtransit3.org, Bothell and Kenmore residents would be able to use two new Bus Rapid Transit systems, which will offer services every 10 minutes connecting to Snohomish County, other areas of King County and the proposed 116-mile light rail network. The project would be funded in part by increased sales tax (0.5 percent), property tax (25 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation) and license tab fees (0.8 percent). The website estimates the typical adult would pay $169 per year or $14 per month in new taxes.
For more information about the levy, visit bothellwa.gov/SafeStreetsSidewalksMeasure.