Constantine Announces Tax Proposal To Avoid Major Bus Cuts

Jan 14, 2014

King County is through waiting on Olympia.

The county is moving forward with its own measure to avoid major service cuts to Metro Transit, King County Executive Dow Constantine said on Tuesday.

“We waited and we waited, and now time is up,” Constantine said. “We are out of time for a statewide bill that includes a local transportation solution. It is time to move forward.”

The executive unveiled a proposal to raise sale tax by one-tenth of a penny, which would raise $50 million per year and expire after 10 years, and implement a $60 annual car fee, which would raise $80 million per year.

Constantine also proposed a fare hike to $2.75 for one zone, and $3.25 to two zones during peak times with a reduced fare of $1.50 available to qualifying low-income riders. If approved, the new rate would take effect in March 2015.

Constantine said he hoped to put the proposal before voters during a special election on April 22. King County Council member Larry Phillips said the council would begin reviewing the legislation Wednesday.

The announcement came as hopes of a statewide gas tax package dimmed in Olympia.

“Our first choice remains a statewide package that is fair and that is well-balanced. But we cannot responsibly wait another year in the hope that the Legislature will act,” he said.

Metro Transit lost $1.3 billion in anticipated sales tax revenue when the recession hit, and temporary funding was expected to run out in June. Without a new source of funding in place, officials have said the county would be forced to make massive to service. Metro has said 74 routes would be eliminated, and 107 additional routes would be changed.