Vote to preserve transit service and fix roads

This month, King County voters will weigh in on Proposition 1, a 10-year measure that raises $130 million per year to supplement transportation funding for King County and cities within the county. If passed, it would implement a $60 vehicle license fee and a 0.1 percentage point increase in the sales tax. This measure will be on the April 22, 2014 ballot and requires a simple majority for approval.

Why support Prop. 1?

Vote YES on Prop. 1 to preserve transit service and fix roads The Chamber recommends a YES vote on Prop. 1 because a strong local transportation system is critical to the economic well-being, safety and community health of our region.

We haven't let go of the big picture, and the Chamber will continue to advocate for the state to make critically needed transportation investments. However, our local needs are urgent: temporary funding for Metro bus service expires this summer, and Prop. 1 provides a solution.

Approving this measure prevents major cuts to Metro bus service, which plays a vital role in reducing congestion by taking 400,000 cars off the road each day.

Keeping bus service at current levels ensures that all members of our community, including our seniors, students, people with disabilities, and working families still have a way to get where they need to go affordably. To support this further, Prop. 1 creates a new $1.25 low income bus fare and partial rebate for low income car owners so that saving Metro does not put the heaviest burden on those who need it the most.

Voting YES on Prop. 1 also preserves our existing infrastructure. Forty percent of the funding raised goes directly to each community in the county to make our streets, roads, and bridges safer. Spending $1 now to repair our roadways avoids $6-14 in replacement costs if we continue to put off these critical investments.

What you can do

  • If you live in King County, be sure to vote! Ballots have been mailed out, and must be postmarked by April 22. You can also drop off your ballot at one of the many drop boxes located around the county.
  • Interested in doing more? The pro-Prop. 1 campaign, Move King County Now, has set up a volunteer calendar with numerous opportunities between today and April 22.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Would the proposed $60 vehicle fee be added on top of an existing city transportation benefit district's $20 vehicle license fee?
    Yes, it would be added to an existing city vehicle license fee (VLF). However, the VLF in this proposal would not be added to the two-year countywide VLF approved in 2012, since that fee expires this June.

    King County cities with transportation benefit districts in place are:
    • Burien – $10 vehicle fee
    • Covington – established TBD, but voters did not approve funding provision.
    • Des Moines – $20 vehicle fee
    • Enumclaw – passed TBD, but has not passed funding provision
    • Kenmore – $20 vehicle fee
    • Lake Forest Park – $20 vehicle fee
    • Maple Valley – $20 vehicle fee
    • North Bend – 0.2 cents sales tax passed
    • Seattle – $20 vehicle fee
    • Shoreline – $20 vehicle fee
    • Snoqualmie – $20 vehicle fee

  • What would the overall sales tax rate in King County become?
    The current total sales tax rate in King County within the Sound Transit district is 9.5%, and outside of the Sound Transit district, the rate is 8.6% (except for North Bend, which is 8.8%). This proposal would bring the rates to 9.6% and 8.7% respectively (8.9% in North Bend)

  • Were other funding sources considered?
    Yes. King County examined other sources available to a TBD, which compared less favorably:
    • Tolling – requires state authorization
    • Property tax – for one year only, or multi-year for debt retirement
    • Development impact fees – would generate limited revenue from new development

  • Why does Prop. 1 ask for more funding than the temporary Congestion Reduction Charge (CRC) that was passed in 2012?
    The $20 annual CRC helped fill a $60 million annual gap in operations, but Metro also faces capital needs of $15 million a year that the CRC did not address. In addition, 40 percent of the funding raised by this measure goes toward county road and local transportation needs—uses that the CRC did not fund. Metro has also tapped into its reserves to cover some of the funding gap it has faced over the past five years, and those reserves have now been spent down to levels recommended by a 2009 performance audit.

  • Last year, Metro brought in $5.4 million more in sales tax revenue than projected. Why does it need more funding?
    While the uptick in revenues is encouraging and means that sales tax receipts have just now reached pre-recession levels, inflation over the last five years means that the revenue brought in now has about 15% less purchasing power that the same nominal amount did in 2007.

  • Has Metro made any operational changes to address the cost side of this equation?
  • Yes. The agency has followed recommendations of the 2009 performance audit to increase efficiency, including right-sizing staffing levels, and has adopted performance-based service guidelines to balance productivity, social equity and geographic value. These actions have resulted in $93 million of ongoing annual savings. Metro has also increased fares four times over the past five years, received an allocation of the property tax, and has eliminated the Ride Free Area. These actions have resulted in a $55 million ongoing increase in annual revenues. Refining operational efficiency is a continuous process, and the Chamber believes that the steps Metro has taken and continues to take to control costs demonstrate a strong commitment to making sure that tax revenues are spent wisely, now and in the future.

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