Taxes on the ballot: First come, first passed?

  • By Jerry Cornfield Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, May 18, 2016 8:11pm
  • Local News

Could Snohomish County’s battle against a heroin epidemic crimp Sound Transit’s delivery of light rail into Everett and other Puget Sound communities?

It may depend on voters’ tolerance for taxes, especially those living in south Snohomish County.

A measure on the August primary ballot would increase the sales tax countywide to generate millions of additional dollars for law enforcement agencies and criminal justice programs.

Then, in November, the Sound Transit 3 proposal will be in front of the electorate in Everett and cities in south county. ST3 would hike a trifecta of taxes — sales, property and motor vehicle excise taxes — to raise billions of dollars for expanding light rail and bus service in the next quarter century.

Those behind each measure have polling data showing theirs can pass. But they’re certainly worried about losing support from the Snohomish County electorate as each campaign gets into gear.

Strategists for the ST3 measure reportedly talked with a handful of Snohomish County leaders about holding off on the justice tax.

The transit proposal is going to be a tough sell in Snohomish County and it only gets tougher if voters’ tolerance for tax measures is sapped by the time they receive their November ballot. Don’t forget many of them also voted on boosting the sales tax for Community Transit last November. That means three significant tax hikes in a year.

Snohomish County Council member Brian Sullivan said action had to be taken to deal with the drug problem and rising incidents of property crime.

“This is a huge issue. There are those who will try to couch it as public safety versus public transit,” he said. “That certainly is not our intent.”

The County Council wanted their measure in front of voters in August specifically to avoid sharing the ballot with Sound Transit this fall.

A similar political conversation occurred in 2008. The County Council voted to put a $163.2 million tax package to redo and expand the courthouse on that year’s November ballot.

But Aaron Reardon, then county executive, vetoed it as too costly. Sullivan said another reason was that the Sound Transit 2 proposal was on the ballot and Reardon felt the county measure might mess things up.

Some think the inclination of the Snohomish County electorate to back the justice tax could be negatively affected by debate on ST3.

This theory assumes so much attention will be paid to the transit proposal that the word won’t get out on the purpose of the county measure and it will fail.

Right now, it’s pretty much guesswork.

Christian Sinderman, a veteran political consultant who is managing the Sound Transit 3 campaign, is optimistic, as one might expect.

“Any time there are multiple tax measures on the ballot there’s going to be concern,” he said. “But voters have a long history of supporting services they value.”

That theory will certainly be tested this year.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at Contact him at 360-352-8623; and on Twitter at @dospueblos.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

Grayson Huff, left, a 4th grader at Pinewood Elementary, peeks around his sign during the Marysville School District budget presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
State OKs Marysville plan with schools, jobs on chopping block

The revised plan would mean the loss of dozens of jobs and two schools — still to be identified — in a school district staring down a budget crunch.

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

The Trestle’s junction with I-5 is under evaluation (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Here’s your chance to give feedback on the US 2 trestle and its future

Often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and on shaky ground? So is the trestle. A new $17 million study seeks solutions for the route east of Everett.

George Beard poses for a photo outside of the the Stanwood Library in Stanwood, Washington on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
From sick to the streets: How an illness left a Stanwood man homeless

Medical bills wiped out George Beard’s savings. Left to heal in his car, he got sicker. Now, he’s desperate for housing. It could take years.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lawsuit says Snohomish County deputies not justified in Sultan shooting

Two deputies repeatedly shot an unarmed Sultan man last year, body camera video shows. An internal investigation is pending.

An airplane is parked at Gate M9 on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. (Jordan Hansen/The Herald)
Good luck to Memorial Day travelers: If you’re like me, you’ll need it

I spent a night in the Chicago airport. I wouldn’t recommend it — but with flight delays near an all-time high, you might want to pack a pillow.

Editorial cartoons for Friday, May 24

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Cascade’s Mia Walker, right, cries and hugs teammate Allison Gehrig after beating Gig Harbor on Thursday, May 23, 2024 in Lacey, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Seniors Wilson, Tripp power Cascade softball past Gig Harbor

The pair combined for three homers as the Bruins won the Class 3A state softball opening-round game.

The original Mountlake Terrace City Council, Patricia Neibel bottom right, with city attorney, sign incorporation ordinance in 1954. (Photo provided by the City of Mountlake Terrace)
Patricia Neibel, last inaugural MLT council member, dies at 97

The first woman on the council lived by the motto, “Why not me?” — on the council, at a sheriff’s office in Florida, or at a leper colony in Thailand.

To the amazement of onlookers, flames shoot out the exhaust pipes on Les Sanders’ black 1950 Mercury Coupe as he drives up and down Colby Avenue with many others in classic and custom automobiles during one of the many popular Cruzin’ to Colby events held each summer in Everett. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Cruzin’ to Colby has ‘100 years of cars’ showing off in downtown Everett

Last year, over 40,000 people came to the free event, a Memorial Day weekend tradition for nearly 25 years.

N3054V accident site. (Alaska State Trooper Photo)
Lake Stevens pilot, who lived ‘Alaska dream,’ died in Fairbanks crash

Former Snohomish County lawyer Harry “Ray” Secoy III, 63, worked as a DC-4 pilot in Alaska in the last years of his life.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.