Kitsap Transit pitches sales tax hike

"Kitsap Transit officials are going town-to-town, asking for a three tenths of a percent sales tax increase to restore services to the county.During a July 14 meeting at the Silverdale Community Center, Kitsap Transit service development director John Clauson explained to the five Central Kitsap residents in attendance why a three-tenths of a percent increase looks better than two-tenths or the status quo. Generally, folks who have been there (to the meetings) have been very positive. They see that what we're asking for is not really to grow the system larger. It's to put the system back to where we were pre-695, said Clauson, referring to the 1999 initiative that established a flat $30 vehicle licensing fee and cost Kitsap Transit $10 million. To be honest, we haven't really had any problems. Pretty much everyone has agreed on three-tenths.I-695 cut 43 percent of the agency's budget and forced transit to cut services by 25 percent.Currently, Kitsap County residents pay an 8.2 percent sales tax. If approved, Kitsap Transit's proposal would increase the sales tax to 8.5 percent - an additional 30 cents for every $100 spent.Hit hardest by the cuts were riders in outlying areas and elderly, disabled or low-income riders.Kitsap Transit revived limited Sunday routed and Access service after receiving unexpected funds from the Legislature and taking in more from last year's motor vehicle excise tax, though the service is funded only through June 2001.If voters approve the tax increase, Clauson said Kitsap Transit would increase service, continue with capital projects and reduce fares, though not to their original amounts. Fares that were $1 and jumped to $2 would go back to $1.25.Weekday service hours would be restored, allowing people to stay out later, and Saturday routed service would expand from nine to 12 hours.Sunday Access service would be restored and Dial-A-Ride service would return. Bremerton-to-Silverdale service hours would be expanded. Service to outlying areas would be restored and reservation hours expanded. Round-trip service to the Association of Retarded Citizens dance also would be restored.Kitsap Transit will continue to host the public forums countywide through July. The next Silverdale meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 20, at the Silverdale Community Center. Tonight, Kitsap Transit will host a community forum at 7 p.m. in Bremerton's Washington Mutual Building, 500 Pacific Avenue."

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