As the economic downturn begins to really settle in on Puget Sound, with large layoffs and cutbacks at mainstays like Microsoft, Boeing, and Starbucks, it's beginning to sink in that things are going to get worse for those struggling to make ends meet, not just the good citizens of Nickelsville.
In Seattle, some water and recycling fees are about to go up for many people. And the Seattle Times reports that there will be "no property tax relief" for homeowners in King County this year. Property owners will be paying more (the county-wide average increase is over 6 percent) because of a rash of measures passed last fall, from fixing up the Pike Place Market to schools and parks funding. There are also reports that people have been receiving major increases in their assessments despite the drop in the real estate market. Appeals of assessments are on the rise and seem out-of-sync with actual values.
The city is also pushing paid parking into more neighborhoods (like Fremont), counting on these revenue streams to cover its budget, but creating hardships for already pressed local retailers. In addition, talk of road tolling and congestion pricing is accelerating to pay for transportation projects. Ready or not, we're headed toward daily user fees for some of our most basic needs. February 1, Metro bumps up its bus fares(pdf), a peak-hour fare rising from $1.75 to $2.00. Wasn't the fare increase justified in part because of higher gas prices? It may not seem like much, it may even be worth it, but in a hard-pressed economy when local newspapers are offering front page advice how how to survive a depression, getting nickeled and dimed makes things that much harder.