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Tacoma City Council “yea;” Bonney Lake City Council “nay” on Pierce Transit sales tax hike

Post by Kris Sherman / The News Tribune on Jan. 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm | 10 Comments »
January 27, 2011 4:51 pm
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland
Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson

It’s been an interesting week for Pierce Transit’s Proposition 1, which seeks voter approval for a three-tenths of 1 percent increase in the sales tax to pay for bus service.

The transit agency drew a draw Tuesday night in the category of city councils supporting or opposing the measure on the Feb. 8 ballot.

Pierce Transit already  collects a .6 percent sales  tax. Proposition 1  would  raise that to .9 percent – or nine  cents  on a  $10 purchase.

Tacoma City Council members unanimously approved a resolution in support of the tax hike. The vote was 8-0 with Councilman Spiro Manthou absent. Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland is co-chair of the Save Our Buses campaign and a member of the Pierce Transit board of directors.

The same evening, over in Bonney Lake, that city’s council unanimously adopted a resolution opposing the proposed sales tax increase. You can read reporter Sara Schilling’s blog post on the meeting here.

You can see the full resolution here.

Meanwhile, a resolution urging voters to say no to the added transit tax is scheduled  for consideration by the Pierce County  Council when it meets at 3 p.m. Tuesday. It’s  sponsored  by  Dick  Muri, R-Steilacoom.

Councilman Tim  Farrell, D-Tacoma, has already said he opposes Muri’s  resolution  and  is staunchly  in favor of the transit measure.

Farrell, who sits  on the Pierce Transit board, made a  show of  marking his mail-in ballot in favor in  front of a News Tribune reporter and several County Council staff members  last week.

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, another transit agency board member, also is a cheerleader for the tax proposal, saying it’s crucial to the county and its residents.

Back  to Bonney Lake, that city’s mayor, Neil Johnson, told The News Tribune last week he’s opposed to the transit tax because he doesn’t believe small cities in outlying areas get service that’s anywhere near equal to the taxes their residents already pay. About $2 million of the sales tax paid in Bonney Lake last year went to Pierce Transit.

The bus agency is so centered in the large-city urban core it might as well be called “Tacoma Transit,” said Johnson, who also sits on the agency’s board of directors.

Strickland staunchly defends what she calls a critical need for the tax hike, saying the agency will have to severely cut service if it doesn’t get more money.

Thousands of  Pierce County residents depend daily on buses to get to work and school, to make doctors’ appointments, buy groceries and generally get around, she says.

Buses also help relieve traffic congestion by taking cars off heavily clogged roads and freeways as more commuters hop aboard to get to work, Strickland says.

We’ll post a copy of the Tacoma  City Council’s resolution  as soon as we get one.

Here’s a copy of Muri’s proposed resolution to come before the County Council on Tuesday:


A Resolution of the Pierce County Council Urging Voters to Vote “Rejected” on “Pierce Transit – Proposition No. 1 – Sales and Use Tax Increase” at the February 8, 2011, Special Election; the Full Title of the Ballot Proposition is as follows:

“The Board of Commissioners of the Pierce County Public Transportation Benefit Area (commonly known as Pierce Transit) adopted Resolution No. 10-013 concerning a proposition to increase the sales and use tax. This proposition would authorize Pierce Transit to impose an additional three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) sales and use tax, for a total sales and use tax of nine-tenths of one percent (0.9%), to provide funds to preserve transit service levels, implement local and express bus services and provide SHUTTLE services for people with disabilities, vanpools and associated capital improvements, all as authorized by Resolution No. 10-013. Should Proposition No. 1 be approved or rejected?”

Whereas, Pierce Transit has requested that voters approve a sales and use tax increase to support the provision of transit services within its jurisdiction; and

Whereas, this request is formalized by Proposition 1 in the February 8, 2011, special election, as identified above; and

Whereas, while the downturn in the economy has affected the revenues for transit operations, its effect on individual citizens and families has often been even more catastrophic; and

Whereas, it is inappropriate in these challenging economic times to impose new tax increases affecting the entire population; and

Whereas, alternative management strategies for addressing transit services should be investigated; Now Therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of Pierce County:

Section 1. The Pierce County Council urges voters to vote “Rejected” on “Pierce Transit – Proposition No. 1 – Sales and Use Tax Increase” at the February 8, 2011, Special Election.

Section 2. The Clerk of the Council shall provide a copy of this Resolution to the members of the State House of Representatives and Senate from districts encompassing a portion of Pierce County, to the County Auditor, and to the County Executive.

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