Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Seattle, Washington, One of the Premier Cities in the West, has Worked for Nearly a Decade to Create a Cultural Tax District Modeled After Denver’s Scientific and Cultural Facilities District

Unfortunately, voters in King County, home of Seattle, just rejected the multi-year effort to create a tenth of a cent cultural taxing district. The election, held August 1, lost by 2 percentage points, 51 percent to 49 percent, 9,000 votes out of 400,000 cast.

Advocates knew that after the May 1, 2017 King County Council vote they had some challenges for the August 1 election. The County Council was divided with bipartisan opposition. The most powerful paper, The Seattle Times, did not favor it. But, they organized a strong campaign with nearly $2 million in funding, TV advertising and many local endorsements.

In the end, the local tax environment was too much to overcome. The Seattle area sales tax has been increased repeatedly and is now above 10 percent. It’s often referred to as a regressive tax. There are a host of other issues the Times and others wanted addressed, such as homelessness, affordable housing and opioids. Arts funding was seen as a lower priority.

It is a reminder of how special Denver’s SCFD is and serves as a challenge to Denver’s cultural and civic leaders to nurture and protect it.

See articles:
The Stranger: King County Council Puts 'Access for All' on the August Ballot
Seattle Times: ‘Education, inspiration’: King County putting sales tax to fund arts on August ballot
Seattle Times: King County voters saying no to Prop. 1 sales-tax plan
Seattle Times: Voter rejection of Proposition 1 sends message about tax measures
King 5 TV: Analysts say Prop One results point to levy fatigue
Cascadia Advocate: King County voters reject proposition to fund the arts with sales tax increase

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