On Monday, the King County Council unanimously passed an ordinance enacting Metro bus service cuts for September 2014. There are press releases from Transportation, Economy, and Environment (TrEE) Committee Chair Rod Dembowski, the four other Democrats on the county council, and King County Executive Dow Constantine:
“This agreement adheres to the principles I insisted on many weeks ago: Don’t rely on money we don’t have; don’t spend one-time money for on-going service; and use objective criteria to make decisions on saving or cutting service,” said Executive Constantine. “I want to thank members for arriving at legislation that balances Metro’s budget, and that is sustainable.”
The TrEE Committee passed the ordinance unanimously last Tuesday. In a sign of continued tension, Councilmember Dave Upthegrove had some interesting things to say about the process:
“I want to thank the Executive and Chair Phillips for working on a proposal that I could at least hold my nose and vote for,” said Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. “It took a little longer than everyone hoped, but I am pleased that the current ‘Majority Coalition’ decided to vote for the same proposal today that they rejected yesterday. I’m not sure what caused them to change their minds, but I am grateful that the Executive and Council Chair brought this proposal to us yesterday and that it is finally moving forward.”
The just-approved ordinance allows Metro to move forward with 161,000 hours of specified cuts in annual bus service hours in September. The council also approved, in principle, allowing Metro to cut another 188,000 annual hours in February of 2015. However, those cuts, including the specific routes, will need further council action.
The prior dispute involved several issues, including using one-time funding sources to temporarily shore up the operating budget and various deviations from Metro’s service guidelines. A main argument was whether to approve the February cuts now or wait for the next budget forecast. The compromise is that the Council agreed to the overall level of February cuts, but not the specific route adjustments, at this time.
Metro is still planning for another 200,000 hours of cuts in June and September of 2015, based on current revenue projections, but the Council will handle that in a later budget process.
Other than the 161,000 hours of cuts in September, these numbers do not take into account the impact if Seattle voters pass the proposal for a Seattle-only revenue package to avoid bus service cuts in Seattle.