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"Kitsap Transit approves sales tax proposal, warns of I-745"

"Even with a three-tenths of a percent sales tax increase, Kitsap Transit might have to cease operation if Tim Eyman's Initiative 745 - requiring that 90 percent of transportation funds be spent on road construction - passes at the polls this year.Kitsap Transit's Board of Commissioners agreed Aug. 2 to place a three-tenths of a percent sales tax increase proposal on the September primary to patch the hole left last November by Initiative 695. Then they discussed what to do about the next initiative.Kitsap Transit Director Dick Hayes said the three-tenths of a percent would generate enough revenue for Kitsap Transit to return service to pre-Initiative 695 levels, reduce fares and continue with capital projects.He's thinks Initiative 745's chances in Kitsap County are poor. They don't have that big advantage of putting money in everybody's pocket, he said.Though the public disclosure commission limits what government officials can say about voter initiatives, Hayes said attorneys are not convinced Initiative 745 will hold water in court. I-745 has lots of constitutional problems, but the last one did, too, so who knows what that means, Hayes said.If the initiative passes, is found constitutional and is interpreted broadly, Kitsap Transit could lose 50-90 percent of its funding, though Hayes said the aftermath of its passage would be messy. I think it's going to be a terrible swamp if it passes. Everyone will be suing, Hayes said.If the initiative is found constitutional and is interpreted to apply to each agency individually, Kitsap Transit could lose $13.5 million, or 90 percent of its budget. According to a memo Hayes released to Kitsap Transit staff, that would leave $1.5 million in the budget, which barely would cover existing debts, and the agency likely would cease operations.Since the initiative is slated for this fall's ballot, Hayes said he's been trying to keep morale up at the office. It's a problem. I feel like a basketball coach again. We've gotta go out there and play our game. If we let them demoralize us, they might as well have won, he said. I'm optimistic. If you have the job I have, you have to have some sort of bedrock faith in the voters. I keep telling everyone we'll be all right."

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