King County Executive Vetoes Council's Vote To Postpone Some Metro Service Cuts
Saying it is not an action he takes lightly, King County Executive Down Constantine vetoed a King County Council vote that would have staved off cuts to King County Metro Transit bus service next year.
In a letter to the council Monday night, Constantine issued his first veto in the five years he has served as the county's executive. In the letter issued shortly after the council's vote, Constantine said reversing the three rounds of cuts slated for 2015 would be spending money the county does not have.
"We can speculate that sales tax revenue might come in higher than projected. Or it might not. We can hope for a favorable outcome in labor negotiations or arbitration. But that is largely outside of our control," Constantine said. "We can budget based on hope. Or we can budget based on reality."
Constantine pointed out that the vote was passed by a bare majority. The council had decided, with a 5-to-4 vote, to postpone three of the four scheduled reductions in service, with the exception of cuts scheduled to take effect this September. The move followed the council's receipt of new projections on county sales tax revenue.
The executive echoed comments made by council chairman Larry Phillips during the debate that preceded the vote, when Phillips called the measure put forward by council member Rod Dembowski irresponsible.
"It is no different, frankly, in my judgment at this time than writing a big check without sufficient funds in the bank to pay for it, hoping you can cover it, betting on the come that you're going to be able to not bounce that check in the future," Phillips said.
Supporters argued a delay would provide time for an outside audit of Metro as well as an exploration of a variety of cost-saving measures.