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"Transit OK for 2001, in trouble for 2002"

"The Kitsap Transit Board of Commissioners last Wednesday, Dec. 7 approved proposed 2001 operating and capital budgets which total $16.8 million and $8.4 million, respectively.Although Kitsap Transit officials said next year's budget allows the agency to continue existing services, they added that 2002 doesn't look so swell unless lost Motor Vehicle Excise Tax and State Equalization Tax revenues can be replaced.With the advent of $30 license tab fees, those two revenue sources were extinguished, blowing a 43 percent hole in the agency's budget.Kitsap Transit is going to be very dependent on the Legislature to provide a permanent funding fix, said Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen, who is also a transit board member. I plan to be in Olympia during this next legislative session at least once every other week keeping dialogue between transit and the legislators going.As an active member of the Washington Association of Counties Legislative Steering Committee, Endresen plans to visit the capitol frequently on behalf of Kitsap County's transportation interests.Endresen said that Kitsap has an ally on the federal level as well. And, in the past, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks has been instrumental in helping the agency obtain capital grants through the federal government, said Endresen.The 2001 budget calls for operating existing services, including Sunday service through next year, Kitsap Transit Executive Director Richard Hayes told the commissioners Dec. 6. The agency still has $1 million in state bailout money, allocated by the Legislature last year to mitigate the effect of lowered license tab fees. Those funds will allow Sunday service to continue. Commuters also can expect existing transit fares to remain the same through all of next year, while routes could be tweaked here and there, officials said.The 2001 capital budget calls for finishing several projects such as improvements to, and expansions of, various park-and-rides, the development of the Poulsbo Transfer Center and bus parking at the Kitsap Transit facility in Bremerton.Kitsap Transit Finance Director Jim Lundstrom cautioned, however, that the capital budget is largely dependent on receipt of more than $5 million in federal reimbursement funds for work already performed on the Bremerton Transportation Center. If that money doesn't come through, said Hayes, those projects could be placed on hold until further notice.Current budget projections also indicate that Kitsap Transit won't have much of a capital budget by 2002 and officials might have to make some service cuts. "

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