Thursday, February 3, 2011

Transit-Related Legislation

By Todd Morrow, Community Transit Chief of Strategic Communications

Transportation funding is on the minds of both federal and state legislators this year.
At the state level, Rep. Marko Liias and other Snohomish County legislators are sponsoring House Bill 1536. This bill has a hearing scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Feb. 9 in Olympia.

The bill would allow transit agency boards in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties the ability to impose a temporary “congestion reduction” fee on vehicles, up to $30 a year for two years. This is a tool to protect local transit service. A companion bill, SB 5457, has been filed in the Senate.

Most of Community Transit’s funding comes from a voter-approved nine-tenths of 1 percent sales tax, the maximum allowed by state law. Due to the recession, sales tax revenues have dropped below 2005 levels and are not bouncing back. Community Transit made significant service cuts in June 2010, and has cut its spending in other areas the past three years. However, more service cuts could be necessary in 2012 to balance the budget with current funding.

HB 1536 could generate approximately $11 million for Community Transit each of the two years it could be collected. For Snohomish County residents, the service that is protected by that funding could be their ride to work, or the trip to the store – both of which are needed for local economic recovery.

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