Friday, January 2, 2009 : KeyArena redo faces uphill battle for funds

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has a story today on the "shaky ground" the proposal is on heading into the current state legislative session.
Reprehensive Ross Hunter (D - Medina) said in an interview after the December 1st meeting of the Joint Task Force Local Financing Options for King County that is supposed to prioritize spending for special tax revenue collected in Seattle (7%) on hotels and King County (2%) on hotels, car rental, and restaurants, that they would try to have a report written before the legislative session.

However, 2009 is here and the legislative task force charged with putting that report together, outlining how to spend King County taxes, has yet to meet, said Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, co-chair of the group.
Hunter said it’s unlikely that the group will meet before the Legislature convenes Jan. 12, and that the task force will have to put together a report during the first few weeks of the session.

How much attention that report receives is unknown because lawmakers will be spending most of their time trying to figure out how to balance the state budget, with a projected deficit of more than $5 billion.
“The reality is, we are going to issue a report that will have some weight in the Legislature,” Hunter said. “But this is obviously a very contentious issue, and it’s going to be dwarfed by the whole budget disaster."

I thought that it was unusual that Hunter would offer a report on spending priorities before he knew how much money he really had, or has. That offer to have the report done was before the governor provided a budget, before state governors and city mayors provided President-elect Obama a laundry list of requests for federal funding support.

State officials will start the legislative session on January 12th, that's before the size and scope of the federal stimulus package will be known. The state budget process is, in effect, backward. Projected revenue drop-offs may be mitigated by federal spending, Governor Chris Gregoire projected 1 billion dollars of federal money into her budget proposal on December 18th. Since then the federal stimulus package has grown from 2.5 million jobs to 3.2 million.

Back to the Eric Williams story:

But competition for the funding is fierce, and includes a $150 million request from the University of Washington to complete a $300 million proposal to revamp Husky Stadium and a $766 million expansion project put forth by the Washington State Convention and Trade Center to double the size of its current downtown Seattle facility. King County arts groups, youth athletic programs and low-income housing programs also want a piece of the pie.
That funding could be limited if state lawmakers decide to use money from the King County taxes funding source to help balance the budget as the state deals with a weak economy.

"We cannot satisfy all of the groups that are asking for funds,” Hunter said. “That can't happen because they add up to more that there is. You also have to balance what it is the Legislature is likely to do. I can’t predict it. I honestly do not know the answer.”
Hunter had said in December that he would get feedback from the rest of the task force about what their priorities are, and craft a recommendation the majority of the group can support. If some sort of agreement couldn’t be reached, Hunter said the group would put together a report outlining the options.
“We will all be forced together in about a week and a half, and that will solve the problem,” Hunter said.

Rumors keep swirling around that UW husky stadium remodel might end up entirely privately funded, which might explain Hunter's remarks about not having enough money for all of these projects.

The task force has not gotten together since the December 1st meeting, and I would not expect them to until they have an idea of how much federal money may be coming the states way. If the funding is significant enough there will be a big shell game to extract state money from one project covered by federal money, and patch other holes in the state budget.

To be clear, the potential is that the hotel owners in Seattle are saddled with an added 7% sales tax on top of the existing state wide sales tax for the express purpose of funding infrastructure projects in Seattle that boost trade and tourism, such as the Washing State Convention & Trade Center. I am not sure how the hoteliers will react if that fund is raided again. The fund was raided last year to patch a hole in the budget, state lawmakers were pressured to act to prevent that from happening again by passing a law on July 1st.

The tax collected in the city, and the tax collected in the county are often seen as the same, but they are slightly different in their purposes, one for convention center funding and the other sports stadium funding. The convention center folks and the city are looking to split that 7% fund, 6% for the convention center, 1% for Seattle Center's KeyArena.

My opinion is that if it is such a good idea to tax hotels an added 7% to spend state wide, then the hotels state wide should be taxed the added 7%, and not just the hotels in Seattle. But I am just a citizen of Seattle.
I think we are waiting two or three weeks to know how much money there really is, and then to the end of March to see the next quarterly revenue projection to see how much money there will be.
If this does not happen this year it could be a very long time before KeyArena get's any kind of remodel, and even longer for the NBA to return to Seattle.


Anonymous said...

I just about to post the link to this story on your previous post, but you beat me to it. I asked Eric Williams off line if Ross Hunter and his colleagues made any reference to the proposed federal stimulus plan that could offset budget shortfalls by creating jobs, but I doubt he'll respond to it. Also, he seems to reference that the city is going after the same revenue source as the UW which they clearly arent. And lastly the article has one response from Tacoma's version of "Will in Seattle", "Copernicus", or "The Apostle". He goes by the handle "Jeggo" and he's a bigger clown than any of them. Inarticulate and anti-everything diatribes from the south sound. Too bad T-town hasn't brought up renovating the T-dome. It would keep his pea-brain busy.

Mr Baker said...

He was not very clear on the split of the funding. There is only so much space he is allowed to fill.

They are not the same sources, not exactly. They are even given their own background history, Convention Center vs 2% share hotel/motel, in the July 16 documents.

We are waiting for the convention center folks to get their proposal done. It was a pretty soft idea 2 months ago, now they have to produce numbers, that's a short flow.
To some extent, the convention cenetr and the viaduct will keep key off the front page.

King 5 has a story today on the darkened Key

Expect them to start beating this drum.

Mr Baker said...


There is some troll here and at the Seattle Times that keeps saying things are fine around the Key, what a fool.

Anonymous said...

RE: Federal stimulus. Our state was only projected to receive 1 billion out of a plan estimated to cost approximately $650 to $775 billion? I thought we'd get a bigger slice than that. I wonder how much California is getting.

Anonymous said...

And your right about the state budgeting process. It seems backward. But I guess the governor has to meet her deadline prior to the legislature conviens.

Mr Baker said...

The 1 billion in the governor's proposed budget was made all the way back in December of 2009, it's January of 2009 now.
The 2.5 million jobs was going to cost around 500 to 600 billion, now it is closer to 3.2 million jobs and 775 billion.
It may get close to a trillion.

There was a story a couple days ago about state senator Lisa Brown where she was talking about how to go about funding the capital projects, and she mentioned that the 1 billion was a low number.
I think the gov gave a worst case to shock people back to reality. She also cut things she knows the feds are planning on providing some funding for, like health care. Medicaid for the states will need more federal dollars, for example.

Anonymous said...

Copernicus and Apostle are the same person. Copernicus being that person's Seattle Times handle while he/she uses Apostle on the P-I. Likely that person once used the handle Dubya because Apostle appeared about the same time Dubya was banned.

Oh and they also go by Lincoln on Crosscut.

Anonymous said...

Hey what's up? No commentary on Steve Kelley's article?