Last week I wrote about the passage of the $275 per person, per year head tax in Seattle. That tax, levied only on companies with annual revenues over $20 million, is intended to raise $47 million per year for new home construction and more services for the city’s homeless. There’s just one problem. According to Ben Noble, director of the city’s budget office, the city is already projected to spend more on the homeless than it is likely to take in. So far, that spending has been covered by taxes on construction which has been booming. But now that boom is expected to cool off, leaving a shortfall even if projected spending remains steady. From KUOW:
If current trends continue, Noble told the committee, Seattle will operate in the red in 2019, to the tune of $28.5 million.
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw asked Noble what city spending was blowing the budget.
Homelessness, Noble said, adding, “The demand for those services, far from declining, is continuing to increase.”
Noble told the Council that the city doesn’t have room in the budget for long-term spending on homelessness…
To recap: The city of Seattle overspent its budget on homelessness before the City Council voted on the head tax. Unless something changes, most of the money raised by the head tax will cover previous spending commitments — not new spending.
So the city with one of the worst homelessness problems in the nation just raised millions via a new tax which, most likely, will only cover what the city is already projected to spend. The vote to pass this new tax happened on the same day that the severity of the homeless problem was brought home for many people. On Monday, just hours before the head tax vote, a 24-year-old homeless man followed a 40-year-old woman into the bathroom at a car dealership and raped her. From KOMO News:
Christopher Teel is accused of following the 40-year-old woman into the restroom at Carter Volkswagen and locking the door, according to charges filed in King County Superior Court Wednesday.
Court documents say Teel, described as 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighing 250 pounds, forced open the woman’s stall door, grabbed her by the neck and pulled her out. She screamed, and he choked her, court documents say.
Teel told her “you want this, God wants this,” according to charges…
Court documents say the woman told police she “surrendered because I didn’t want to die.”
A homeless man named Chris Teel was photographed last November in a homeless camp. He had moved to the area from Texas. You can see several photos of him here. At least one area resident is describing the rape as the last straw:
Erika Nagy, a mother of two who lives in Ballard, said the rape is the final straw for her. She said she has taken her worries about safety, as well as her concerns about the drug needles she and her children have found, to City Hall. But, she said, no one has listened.
“I have every right to be mad,” Nagy said. “This is enough. I want my city back.”
A Seattle architect who has lived in the city since the 1970s wrote a piece for the Seattle Times today saying much the same thing:
The big problem is that for years we have had a city government that has ignored the needs and wants of the citizens they are supposed to represent, and instead listened only to relatively radical special-interest advocates that represent a fraction of Seattle residents. In the process, our city government has become bizarrely left-wing, routinely ignoring public opinion and advocating socialist ideology…
The city has spent hundreds of millions of dollars degrading the quality of life for most residents, all of it based on ideology, never sound analysis or evidence. There is no accountability for spending on homelessness, bike lanes, or streetcars, and at the same time, the basic responsibilities of city government – public safety, welfare, and infrastructure – continue to deteriorate…
The real question is why Seattle’s residents don’t rebel, and recall rogue politicians and pass initiatives to roll back ridiculous programs. I honestly do not know anyone in personal, work, neighborhood, or other contexts that agrees with any of the city’s major plans or programs in the last five years. On the contrary, most people are mad as hell…
Will this revolt grow, or are Seattle’s residents too lazy, complacent, or polite to take back control of their city? Are there any reasonable, moderate people and political groups preparing to run for office and put real public representatives back in city government?
Are residents finally getting sick of their far-left city council members spending like crazy while the city itself becomes one of the nation’s leading homeless encampments? I’ll believe it when I see it. If there’s one thing we can take from what is currently happening in Venezuela it’s that socialists rarely take the signals being sent by the market as a sign of their own failure. Instead, they inevitably see them as signs they haven’t gone far enough.