Olympia Transit Center, photo by SounderBruce / flickr
A pair of bills would give Thurston County’s Intercity Transit (IT) the authority to go to the voters and ask for an additional 0.3% sales tax authority. The current IT tax rate is 0.8%, out of 0.9% authorized by the state. Sales tax provides 3/4 of IT’s revenue stream. Ridership has grown 68% in the past 10 year. IT raised fares roughly 25% back in 2013.
All Public Transportation Benefit Areas in the state are authorized to have a sales tax of up to 0.9%, with voter approval, except for Snohomish County Community Transit, which is permitted a 1.2% sales tax.
The Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority, which is not a PTBA, will have a 1.4% sales tax rate effective April 1, 2017.
King County Metro has the maximum 0.9% sales tax rate for PTBAs.
The City of Seattle devotes a 0.1% sales tax to extra bus service.
Senators Sam Hunt (D – Olympia), Marko Liias (D – Everett), and Patty Kuderer (D – Clyde Hill) are sponsoring the senate bill to raise IT’s allowed rate to 1.2%, Senate Bill 5288. That bill passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee 9-3 on Monday.
Voting Yes were committee members:
Curtis King (R – Yakima, Chair of the committee),
Tim Sheldon (D – Potlatch, Vice Chair)
Steve Hobbs (D – Lake Stevens, Ranking Minority Member)
Marko Liias (Assistant Ranking Minority Member)
Annette Cleveland (D – Vancouver)
Brad Hawkins (R – East Wenatchee)
Dean Takko (D – Longview)
Kevin Van de Wege (D – Sequim)
Maureen Walsh (R – College Place)
Voting No were:
Phil Fortunato (R – Bonney Lake)
Steve O’Ban (R – Tacoma)
Lynda Wilson (R – Vancouver)
The bill passed out of the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday, and sits on the second reading floor calendar.
Its companion bill, House Bill 1410, is sponsored by Representatives Laurie Dolan (D – Olympia), Beth Doglio (D – Olympia), Jake Fey (D – Tacoma), Jessyn Farrell (D – Seattle), Laurie Jinkins (D – Tacoma), Joe Fitzgibbon (D – Burien), Gerry Pollet (D – Seattle), and Larry Springer (D – Kirkland)
That bill had to first go through the House Finance Committee, where it got forwarded 7-2-1 on February 3, to the House Transportation Committee.
Voting Yes in the Finance Committee were
Kristine Lytton (D – Anacortes, Chair)
Noel Frame (D – Seattle), Vice Chair)
Drew Stokesbary (R- Auburn)
J.T. Wilcox (R – Roy)
Voting No were
Terry Nealy (R – Dayton, Ranking Minority Member)
Ed Orcutt (R – Kalama, Assistant Ranking Minority Member)
Cary Condotta (R – Wenatchee) voted to forward the bill “without recommendation”.
The deadline for HB 1410 to get a public hearing and voted out of the House Transportation Committee is Friday, February 24. Nobody testified against the bills at either of the first two hearings.