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Seattle Voters' Guide  


City Attorney's Explanatory Statement


The Existing Situation–

The City of Seattle owns the Alaskan Way seawall and Piers 58 and 62/63 on the City central waterfront. The City Council passed and the Mayor approved Ordinance 123922 (a copy of which is found elsewhere in this pamphlet). That ordinance includes the following statements about the existing situation of these public improvements:

• “[T]he existing Alaskan Way seawall is seriously deteriorated due to aging components and materials, and tidal forces of Elliott Bay, and marine borer damage, with approximately 50 percent of the existing wall currently damaged.”

• “[T]he seawall is not designed to withstand earthquakes and there is a one in ten chance in the next ten years of an earthquake leading to liquefaction and Seawall failure.”

• “Pier 58 is seismically vulnerable and the structural deficiencies of Piers 62/63 have forced the City to significantly limit activities on the piers in order to protect public safety.”

The Effect of the Measure if Approved –

If approved by the voters, the City proposes to sell no more than $290,000,000 in bonds to pay for the costs related to the design, construction, renovation, improvement, and replacement of the Alaskan Way seawall and associated public facilities and infrastructure, including City-owned waterfront piers (collectively, the “Project”). The principal and interest on the bonds (the debt) would be repaid by increased property taxes in excess of normal property tax limits.

The bonds must be issued within ten years of the vote and each bond must mature within thirty years of its sale. A portion of the funds raised, equal to 1% of the estimated construction expenditures on the Project, will be spent on public works for art in accordance with Seattle Municipal Code Section 20.32.030.

The funds raised by the bonds would be used for capital costs of the Project. Section 2 of Ordinance No. 123922 details the nature of those costs. The City also shall seek supplemental, matching or additional funds to pay all or part of the cost of the Project. If the Project is completed and there are remaining funds from the sale of the bonds, those funds may be used for other waterfront improvements or infrastructure construction, repair or replacement, or for the payment of debt service on bonds, all as later determined by ordinance. Should there be insufficient funds from the bonds to complete the Project, the City may delay completion of all or any element of the Project until adequate funding is available, or eliminate any part of the Project.

Property taxes will be raised in excess of regular property tax levies, without limitation as to rate, but only in such amounts sufficient to pay the principal and interest (debt service) on the bonds. The annual debt service for all $290 million in bonds approved by this measure is estimated to be $19 million per year over a 30-year period, assuming a 5% interest rate. Once the full $290 million in bonds have been sold, the impact to property owners is projected to be approximately $59 annually for a median-value home worth $360,000.

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