Seattle puts tax levy for publicly financed City Council campaigns on ballot

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moneySEATTLE — The Seattle City Council voted Monday to place on the November ballot a measure that would raise homeowners’ property taxes in order to partly finance the campaigns of City Council candidates.

The public financing proposal would only apply to City Council races and would be instituted in the 2015 elections.

“I’m looking forward to the robust debate about the role of money in politics in the months ahead,” Councilman Mike O’Brien said.

Voters would be asked to approve a six-year, $9 million property tax levy to finance the program, which would cost an estimated $2 million per year, or about $5.76 for a home valued at $350,000.

To opt into the program, candidates would first have to qualify by collecting contributions of $10 or more from at least 600 Seattle residents. Once qualified, donations up to $50 would be matched 6-to-1 on the first $35,000 raised.

Candidates who fully utilize the matching system would receive $210,000 in public funds throughout the entire campaign, split between the primary and general elections.

Candidates would have the option to run for office without participating in the public financing program.

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