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County Council delays vote on bus cuts

The King County Council will vote Monday on legislation outlining bus service reductions to shore up a long-time funding gap, the ordinance in question substantively no different than one that failed this week.

At contention during this week's meeting was a revised striking amendment submitted ahead of a vote that Rod Dembowski, chairman for the transportation committee, said needed additional legal review and more public input during a Tuesday committee meeting.

Council Chairman Larry Phillips pushed for council a vote on July 14, saying Dembowski and others have had ample time to review the ordinance, which authorizes King County Metro to reduce service by about 160,000 hours beginning Sept. 27. He said he was tired of constantly deferring a vote, when revised amendments to the ordinance did not change what was being negotiated last week.

Dembowski said Tuesday's transportation committee meeting was another opportunity for the public to weigh in on the amendment, but Councilmember Larry Gossett argued there have been 17 public meetings held by the county since Proposition 1 failed in April.

"It's too late. Let's vote today on the measure," Gossett said. "And on a compromise measure. One that you all came up with."

The council tied 4-4 in a vote, with Councilmember Jane Hague excused on July 14. The transportation committee met Tuesday and passed another revised version, which made no substantive changes to what has already been negotiated, with Phillips excused from the meeting.

"I put my name on that turd in the hope of getting the support of the other council (members)," said Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, who had co-sponsored the July 14 striking amendment. He added he's unsure how he'll vote Monday. "We're not on the same page when it comes to transit policy."

The striking amendment also creates an ad hoc committee on transit reductions, which will consist of King County Executive Dow Constantine and three councilmembers representing three council committees working to find ways to adjust service in February 2015, currently facing 188,000 hours in reductions. Service reductions in June and September 2015 would be off the table until after the county council adopts a budget.

It also would have Constantine provide a report ahead of September reductions identifying ridership by those with disabilities who use mobility aides and the dial-a-ride transit services and the impact of service reductions on them and how service could be backfilled through third-party contracts.

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