Lo these many years ago the Kingdome was created, and it was good… but only if you liked watching baseball in a concrete mausoleum. Since then we’ve built Safeco Field, Qwest, the remodel of Key Arena, and a convention center. The Kingdome was blown up, but the taxes that paid for its new roof are still going on. Sometime in the middle of this timeframe funds were carved out to support the arts in King County.
All these taxes end in the next 10-15 years and a large crowd of people who think they know exactly how to spend the money has formed. Some of the taxes expire, some continue, and some should expire, but don’t.
I co-chair a committee responsible for working our way through the swamp and making a proposal of what we should do. I don’t have consensus on the committee yet, but my personal preferences are pretty simple.
- The state should not be funding special projects in King County with statewide taxes, unless the facilities are really of value to voters in the rest of the state.
- The jurisdiction in which the taxes are collected should make decisions about the taxes — should they continue being collected and if so, what should they be spent on?
- We should be good landlords for the buildings the public owns, making sure that enough money is dedicated to maintenance to avoid the problems we’re having with Key Arena.
- Some of these taxes should end. Every decision we make here will sunset and require renewal by the legislature at some point in the future.
I’ll try to build some consensus in the committee before we get back to Olympia in January, but it’s a difficult project. I’m open to feedback — should we fund:
- Husky Stadium remodel ($150 mil)
- Community preservation in the international district ($3 mill/year)
- Key Arena ($75 mil)
- Federal Way Performing Arts Center ($25-30 mil)
- Convention Center expansion (lots)
- Continuing support for Arts in King County ($10 mil/year)