Look to bottom of ballot to find Community Transit measure

Voters will need to look to the bottom of the Nov. 3 ballot to find the proposition to raise the sales-tax rate by 0.3 cents per dollar in much of Snohomish County to pay for improvements to Community Transit.

The measure is the last one on Snohomish County Transportation Benefit District ballots. The district included all of the county except Everett, which has its own bus system, and rural areas of east Snohomish County, which have no bus service

Some voters in the city of Edmonds will find that it’s the 29th item on their ballots.

Snohomish County Elections Director Garth Fell said Monday that there always is some dropoff in voter participation from the top of the ballot to the bottom but added that if voters feel passionate about an issue they look for it.

Here is the voters’ pamphlet material about the issue:

Ballot Title:

Snohomish County Public Transportation Benefit Area Corporation

(Community Transit)

Proposition No. 1

Transit and Mobility Improvement 0.3% Sales and Use Tax Funding

The Board of Directors of the Snohomish County Public Transportation Benefit Area Corporation (Community Transit) adopted Resolution No. 08-15, concerning the imposition of an additional sales and use tax. This proposition would authorize an additional sales-and-use tax of three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) to fund operating, maintenance, and capital improvements to the existing system. These improvements would include more bus trips and better connections, operation of a second line of Swift bus rapid transit between Boeing/Paine Field and Canyon Park, and new service to current and emerging job, retail, and educational growth centers, including connections to the future regional light rail network. Should this proposition be:

Approved __

Rejected __

Explanatory Statement:

If approved by the voters, this proposition would authorize Community Transit to impose an additional sales tax of three-tenths of one percent (0.3%). The proposed tax would provide more commuter bus trips to Seattle, increased east-west service along busy corridors, and new routes to job, housing, and educational centers across Snohomish County. It would reduce wait times and provide more trips during mid-day, evening and weekend hours. In addition, the proposed tax would fund a second Swift bus rapid transit line connecting the major job and population corridor between Boeing/Paine Field and Canyon Park. Community Transit would also provide new service to the future light-rail network.

Pro Statement:

More Transit Means Less Traffic Congestion

Snohomish County is one of the nation’s fastest growing areas, resulting in longer commutes and traffic gridlock impacting our families and quality of life. We need transportation solutions that reduce congestion and move people efficiently. Community Transit bus, vanpool and paratransit service is critical to meeting current and future transportation needs.

For less than $3/month for an average voter, Proposition 1 will meet rising demand for transit, improving mobility for students, seniors, commuters, and people with disabilities across our County.

Proposition 1 will provide:

  • More trips on existing bus routes, reducing wait times between buses;
  • Longer daily transit service hours, including evenings and weekends;
  • A second Swift rapid transit line between Boeing and Canyon Park;
  • More vanpool and DART service;
  • New routes and service throughout the county, including frequent connections to future light rail.

Accountable and Efficient

It’s been 15 years since Community Transit asked voters for more revenue. Careful planning and oversight helped weather the recession. But gridlock and growth mean we must invest in more buses and increased service.

Supported by Leaders You Trust

Whether you ride transit or not, these improvements will help our economy and quality of life. That’s why Prop. 1 is endorsed by United Way of Snohomish County; Economic Alliance of Snohomish County; County Labor Council; State Senators Liias, McCoy, Hobbs; State Representatives Moscoso, Ortiz-Self, Peterson, Robinson, Sells, Stanford; Mayors of Arlington, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo, Stanwood; and more!

Vote Yes on Proposition 1.

Pro committee members:

Crystal Donner, Jennifer Gregerson, Marko Liias

Con Statement:

Community Transit could manage spending better before asking taxpayers to subsidize service even more than they already do.

Community Transit wants to add another 0.3% Sales and Use Tax to the 0.9% sales tax most Snohomish County residents already pay for local and commuter bus service. In addition, taxpayers pay 0.3% Motor Vehicle Excise Tax for Sound Transit who will be asking voters for more taxes next year. Community Transit’s own 2014 projections are for an average 4.5% income growth yearly through 2019.

With a similar size area and half the population, Spokane’s transit agency ridership is greater at a lower cost and they provide more than 3 times the hours of local bus service at those lower costs.

Even King County Metro’s and Pierce Transit’s costs per trip are almost half that of Community Transit.

Snohomish County taxpayers subsidize riders who pay $2 for a trip that costs $9.10.

Even the state Department of Transportation says Community Transit is one of the most expensive transit agencies in the state for its size.

Increasing transit taxes on working families will hit Snohomish County residents especially hard. Do not support more taxes for Community Transit until they budget their spending better.

Community Transit needs to learn to operate within its means.

Vote no to raising Community Transit taxes.

Con committee members:

Jeff Scherrer, Nathan Shelby

Pro Committee Rebuttal Statement:

Opponents ignore growth that’s causing more traffic, and stress on families and businesses. They also skew the facts. While other transit agencies have made multiple voter requests, Community Transit cut overhead and made efficiencies – earning public trust. But growth and traffic means we simply need more transit service.

That’s why nonpartisan United Way and Economic Alliance support Proposition 1, as well as Executive John Lovick and more. Vote yes for more transit and less traffic.

Con Committee Rebuttal Statement:

CT wants us to believe their effort will “mean less congestion” so they are trying to provide something for everyone in hopes that voters will approve this tax increase.

The economic outlook is good for Snohomish County and CT wants us to believe we have “weathered the recession”. Some forecast another recession in the future.

Is CT really “Accountable and Efficient” while taxpayers subsidize them at such a high rate?

Vote No on Prop 1!

Evan Smith can be reached at schsmith@frontier.com.

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