The (Everett) Herald, in previewing the upcoming year in politics, leads readers to a compelling question – after years of broken promises, will Snohomish County voters trust Sound Transit enough to vote on a multi-billion-dollar tax package this fall?
Voters across Sound Transit’s three-county territory are all used to big promises and little return from the Seattle-centric transit agency. But perhaps no area has received less value for its tax dollars than folks living up north. As the Herald suggests, “This year’s biggest scrap in Snohomish County is likely to be whether voters decide a 20-year-old promise to bring light rail to downtown Everett is worth keeping — even it means paying higher taxes and waiting another 20 years for the first train to arrive.”
Snohomish County voters have reason to be concerned because, to satisfy Seattle’s insatiable demand for more public dollars, Sound Transit is now considering whether more light rail within the big city – from Ballard to West Seattle, say, or another downtown rail tunnel – are more important than keeping promises to get trains to Everett. Even if such a plan means doubling the size of this year’s tax increase.
Again, the Herald, “(Edmonds Mayor Dave) Earling, an original Sound Transit board member from the early 1990s, said the agency must keep its promise to serve Everett before branching out. ‘It’s our duty, as a board, to stick to that commitment from many years ago,’ Earling has said. ‘We think it’s important to build the right system, as opposed to the cheapest system.’ “
Of course, for politicians everywhere, when spending taxpayer dollars, the “cheapest system” is never the right choice.
And especially not for Sound Transit.