How Green Was My Valley: Seattle Scraps Over Parking Tax

Seattle, long known as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the US, may be facing some resistance in its efforts to green up the city a bit more. With a multimillion dollar deficit looming, Mayor Mike McGinn is threatening to pull financing for the city’s Bike Master Plan; specific projects planned for the coming year can be found here (downloads as a pdf).

Also on the chopping block under Mayor McGinn’s plan? The city’s Pedestrian Master Plan.

Funding for the bike and pedestrian plans top the list of “at risk” projects under the proposed 2011 budget if an increase to the commercial parking tax isn’t approved. Other potential cuts include funding for street cleaning and traffic safety.

McGinn’s plan would increase the commercial parking tax, which currently sits at 10%, to 17.5%. City Council, however, has balked at the size of the increase, suggesting instead a bump of 2.5%. McGinn doesn’t think it’s enough to stave off cuts. You can see a complete list of projects he claims are at risk on the mayor’s blog.

Of course, while McGinn is painted at the bad guy here, he’s by no means the first mayor in the country to threaten huge cuts in city budgets. Philadelphia’s Michael Nutter and New York’s Michael Bloomberg have joined the ranks of other mayors across the nation criticized for threatening cuts to city services including public libraries, police and fire workers. Local governments have been crying poor due to losses in revenue from taxpayers as well as disappearing federal funding. Taxpayers, on the other hand, point to perceived waste in local budgets and want to see more strategic cuts rather than increased taxes. Local governments have responded by claiming that there’s nothing else but services (*cough*) left to trim. Who do you think is right?