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Dori exclusive: Magnolia LID tax is coming, Bagshaw reveals in email

The Magnolia Bridge. (KIRO 7)

We are your canary in the coal mine. I have an exclusive about a planned Magnolia LID that you need to pay attention to.

Two years ago, I told you about an insidious way that jurisdictions around the state were going to try to sweep up more of your money. It was called a LID tax, or local improvement district tax. We saw it with the Seattle waterfront LID tax. The city told property owners they needed to fork over $200 million so the city could pay for its new waterfront park that will be undoubtedly filled with heroin addicts.

Essentially, a LID is a way for the city to impose a tax without a vote of the people. It’s also a way for the city to use the general fund for other radical purposes and use the new tax to cover things that should be paid for out of the general fund. The LID is based on the value of your property.

It is a common misbelief that everyone who owns a condo downtown is rich, when in actuality, there are a lot of people who bought their downtown condos 25 years ago, when the value was much lower. They are not wealthy. Many are older and on fixed incomes. But now they find themselves having to give $8,000 or $10,000 to the city over the 20 years of this tax.

Dori: LID tax passage marks beginning of disturbing trend

The downtown property owners have been fighting back. And now the Dori Monson Show has exclusively obtained an email thread between the attorney working for those property owners and Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw that reveals future plans for a Magnolia LID.

If you live in Magnolia or Queen Anne, pay particular attention. But also if you live in Kent, Tacoma, Snohomish, Redmond, or anywhere else in the Puget Sound, pay attention. Cities all around the region are watching to see if Seattle will get away with this taxation without a vote of the people. I predicted two years ago that this kind of tax was going to spread like wildfire.

And indeed it is. Seattle is planning another LID tax for the people in Queen Anne. Why? The group remodeling the Seattle Center Coliseum (known by some as Key Arena), they said no tax dollars would be used for it. But, they also had a deal with the city council that the city would have to beautify the area around the arena in Lower Queen Anne. So the city will come after those property owners for thousands of dollars each.

Now I have proof, in writing, of the plan to go after the people of Magnolia through a Magnolia LID.

The Magnolia Bridge has been identified as rickety. As you no doubt are aware, the city has been saying for a long time that a new bridge needs to be built. There are record tax revenues right now, so the Seattle Department of Transportation should be able to prioritize and do basic infrastructure improvements like that. Nothing is more basic for a city than providing roads and bridges and safe ways to travel.

The attorney working to overturn the waterfront LID wrote to Sally Bagshaw. This is the response she sent.

Sally here. I am saddened by your position. As a downtown Waterfront resident, current Councilmember, your former client and your friend, please please know we have been working on this project since 2004 and we want this LID to succeed. The decision was thoughtfully made. Not only for this project but for the future Magnolia Bridge we need the LIDs to fund major capital projects. Those of us who benefit greatly should pay our share. I am one who will benefit and I will have more to pay. It is fair. The Council has worked hard to fund the Waterfront projects, we do not want to keep revisiting decisions made, and I will urge the Council to stay the course.

So right there, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw revealed that a Magnolia LID is indeed planned.

I did a little calculating of what this would cost the people of Magnolia. The latest estimate was that a new Magnolia Bridge could cost up to $400 million. Original estimates were half of that. But let’s say they put the full $400 million on everyone in Magnolia. There are about 10,000 households in Magnolia. That would work out to $40,000 per household over the course of the LID collection period.

Now, the final number would likely be less — I doubt they could get away with $40,000 per household. Maybe they’d whittle the cost of the bridge down to $250 million and the city would subsidize $50 million. So then it’s “only” $20,000 per household.

Is that fair? Is it fair that without any vote of the people, they inflict a $20,000 tax on every household? We can spend money on the most frivolous of transportation nonsense, like bike lanes for the 3 percent of commuters who use them. Yet for the things that should be our most basic needs, like bridges, we need an extra tax.

If you’re not in Magnolia, if you’re not even in Seattle, don’t think that you’re immune from this. Redmond, Tacoma, you’re next. This kind of LID will spread throughout the entire Puget Sound as our politicians reach greedily for our wallets.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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