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KRCC plans to make Kitsap's case in Olympia
"Come January, a 10-year-old countywide policy group plans to ask state legislators to retain and possibly improve Washington State Ferries services, even if that means costlier fares for Puget Sound commuters.Created in 1991, the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council plans to push a legislative agenda that focuses on countywide transportation needs. The county and all four Kitsap cities plan to sign off on the agenda next month, allowing the KRCC to move forward with it when the state Legislature convenes a 105-day session in Olympia next year.To that end, the KRCC has crafted a slew of priorities to lobby for at the state capitol. Among them is transportation. Other legislative priorities include economic development, water rights issues, the Growth Management Act, parks and recreation and state funding for regional services. The KRCC also wants the Legislature to authorize local jurisdiction to independently raise funds for transportation fixes.In a broad message to the state Legislature, the KRCC listed four imminent transportation needs.* Auto and passenger-ferry service can't be reduced further.* Higher fares are acceptable, but only for better ferry service.* Kitsap is in dire need of more passenger-only ferry service.* Options for operations, capital and governance should be reviewed further.Sounds good, but how will these priorities stay at the forefront of lawmakers' minds next session?In theory the KRCC will put together a list of elected officials and key agency officials who can set aside a certain amount of time in their schedules this next year, in the event Kitsap County needs members to testify at a legislative hearing, said KRCC executive director Mary McClure. That way, we can send a SWAT team of sorts down to Olympia in a timely manner.McClure sees the KRCC as a vehicle to coordinate common, countywide interests among public agencies and other groups.The Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council plans to be the glue that brings all these other county agencies together as one voice to speak clearly to the state legislators, she said. Whenever it makes sense to do so, we plan to go out into the community and coordinate goals with these area agencies, especially the economic development goals for the county with the Economic Development Council and the area chambers of commerce and Port of Bremerton.KRCC officials argue that maintaining the WSF system should be a top priority, since it doesn't cost much more than caring for bridges or other special-purpose roadways, such as Snoqualmie Pass, which are funded by the state Department of Transportation.WSF has 52,000 daily users on the Kitsap routes, while the pass has 26,000 daily users and winter maintenance requirements.The KRCC is composed of government officials from the county and Kitsap's four cities, as well as some representatives from junior taxing districts. "