On Thursday the King County Council’s Budget and Fiscal Management Committee unanimously approved a 2015-16 budget ordinance that “maintains current levels of transit services.” The Council will formally take up the proposed budget in its scheduled meeting on Monday, November 17. As all 9 council members serve on the Budget committee and voted to approve, approval is likely in the Council itself on Monday.
The proposed budget also:
- Increases funding to $6M per year (corrected from “per biennium”) for an alternative-services “demonstration program” intended to “right size [transit] service options and help those communities most affected by recent service reductions.” The program will be led by Metro and “include discussion with local governments, nonprofit organizations, private businesses, community groups, and other stakeholders in communities where fixed-route transit may not be a cost-effective option.”
- As part of the alternative-services program, provides for a regional task force to review and make recommendations regarding the Metro Service Guidelines. These are intended to be reflected in revisions to the [Metro] Strategic Plan and in further policy details for transit service agreements with cities.
- Funds study of “transition to a cashless fare system… [and elimination] of paper transfers”
- Approves a low-income fare
- Increases the number of discounted tickets for nonprofit agencies
- Maintains the target level for the fleet replacement reserve (RFRF) at 30% of estimated full replacement cost
- Funds the recently-enacted “permanent Metro transit audit function”
- Funds a “Strategic Technology Roadmap for Transit” to “address how technology will be used in the future to support Transit in delivering transit services”
- Provides for a strategic plan to address “the housing affordability and homelessness crisis” and specifically includes “microhousing” among the solutions to be considered.
The Ordinance itself does not include a revised Financial Plan for Metro that reflects its provisions, nor the impact on the Revenue Stabilization Reserve. But for those interested, this report by Council staff evaluates financial plan scenarios of different service levels, reserve policies, and economic forecast assumptions. In that document, Scenario 3 seems to correspond to the recommended budget, and Scenario 4 evaluates that plan in the case of a “moderate recession.”