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Vote No on Proposition 1 | Other Voices
By Tom Sulewski
The Bellevue Chamber, along with other chambers of commerce in Washington, has advocated persistently for a statewide transportation package. Our businesses need bus transit service, but they also need investments in infrastructure and planned capital projects on SR-520, I-405, and I-90. Proposition 1 on the April 22 ballot would undercut momentum that exists in Olympia for a statewide transportation package.
Proposition 1 partially props up bus transit needs in King County for the short term and undermines the long term transportation improvements Bellevue and the entire Eastside badly needs, namely the completion of SR-520 and funding for congestion-relieving capital projects on I-405. Prop 1 proposes a $60 annual vehicle fee and would increase the sales tax by 0.1 percent, raising the rate to 9.6 percent in many communities including Bellevue, the highest in the state.
The vast majority of Eastside employees and employers commute to and from work, and places in-between, on I-405. In 2010, there were nearly 300,000 daily trips on I-405 between Bellevue and Renton. By 2030, that number will be more than 650,000. Proposition 1 does nothing to relieve congestion on I-405. Similarly, it won’t fund the completion of SR-52. Instead, it would take precious tax monies to maintain status quo bus service and administer only $3.48 million to Bellevue for transportation improvements.
Our organization has voiced forceful support for the expansion of bus transit in Bellevue and throughout the I-405 corridor to help relieve congestion and connect the busiest employment centers of the Eastside. We continue to advocate for the construction of more Eastside park-and-ride facilities. Proposition 1 will not expand bus service in Bellevue nor construct any additional park-and-ride facilities. If Proposition 1 were to pass, registered car owners in Bellevue would contribute approximately $5.7 million in tax monies in 2015 but see no increase in bus service. Clearly the costs outweigh the benefits.
According to the Municipal League, and other respected community organizations, King County Metro’s financial model is unsustainable. More money for unsustainable transit service does nothing to create sustainability. Metro received additional tax revenue in 2000, 2006, 2010, and 2011. None of that additional revenue made Metro’s operations sustainable and Proposition 1 will not, either.
Bellevue’s bus transit needs are growing and efficiencies in the system are needed to allow for continued growth. The Chamber supports raising the gas tax in order to fund infrastructure and capital improvements and provide local transit options, but the Chamber must oppose Proposition 1.
An injection of revenue is badly needed to breathe life into aging Eastside transportation infrastructure, complete capital projects that will relieve congestion, and move employers, employees, and goods more easily throughout the entire Eastside. The proposed Proposition 1 tax increase does not expand bus service or construct additional park-and-ride facilities and jeopardizes a state transportation funding plan vital to our members. We urge a No vote on Proposition 1.
Tom Sulewski is Chair of the Board of Directors for the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce. He is also a CPA and shareholder in charge of the audit practice at Clark Nuber.