Thursday, February 10, 2011

Split Results in Washington State Elections

The results from Tuesday's elections in Washington state are a mixed bag. Voters in Jefferson County approved Proposition 1 by 56% to 44%. The measure asked voters to increase the local sales tax by 0.3 percent to avoid cuts to Sunday bus and dial-a-ride service. The sales tax increase is expected to generate $1.1 million annually for Jefferson Transit.

Voters in Pierce County did not approve their own Proposition 1 for a 0.3 percent sales tax increase in a 46% to 54% vote. The sales tax increase was needed just to maintain existing service by Pierce Transit. Between 2007 and 2010, the agency went through two rounds of layoffs, delay or elimination of several capital projects, fare increases and a nearly 8 percent decrease in service.  A phased-in reduction of service hours is expected to begin next fall with a 35% reduction by 2012. If service were to be maintained the agency would face a $51 million shortfall by the end of next year. The measure would have generated approximately $30 million annually for the agency.