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Voters in Washington State will be asked on the November 5, 2019, ballot whether to approve an initiative concerning motor vehicle taxes and fees.  The measure does several things, including limiting annual motor vehicle license fees to $30, reducing the funding that pays for Jefferson Transit bus, paratransit, and vanpool programs.

Ballot measure summary—impacts to transportation funding

Initiative 976 changes vehicle taxes and fees by lowering motor vehicle and light duty truck weight fees to $30; eliminating the 0.3 percent sales tax on vehicle purchases; lowering electric vehicle and snowmobile fees; modifying and reducing Sound Transit motor vehicle excise tax provisions; and removing authority for transportation benefit districts to impose a vehicle fee.

If passed, the total revenue loss for transportation purposes across the state will be $4.2 billion over 6 years. The account that provides funding for transit agencies including Jefferson Transit—the State Multimodal Account—is projected to lose $1.5 billion over that same period if the measure is approved. That amounts to an approximate 70% reduction in funds for the current two-year period.  Almost half of the funds in the State Multimodal Account are designated for transit programs.

Impact to Jefferson Transit service and programs

Approximately 31% of Jefferson Transit’s annual operating revenue comes from the State Multimodal Account.  For the current fiscal year, Jefferson Transit is slated to receive approximately $1.53 million in funding from the State’s Multimodal Account.  Bus service in jeopardy if the initiative is passed:

  • Fixed Route bus service in Eastern Jefferson County
  • Paratransit Bus service in Eastern Jefferson County
  • Deviated route service in West Jefferson County

If Initiative 976 is approved by the voters, funding for those services will be disrupted and diminished.  Jefferson Transit would not be able to sustain its current level of service. It is difficult to determine the full effects of the initiative now because its implementation will be determined by future decisions of the state Legislature and the resolution of any potential legal challenges. Once a clear picture of the funding reduction is known, the amount and location of service cuts would be decided by the Jefferson Transit Authority Board.

In the meantime, this agency will maintain existing levels of service.  As always, Jefferson Transit will stay true to its mission to provide reliable, safe, comfortable public transportation service in Jefferson County which is cost effective, reduces energy consumption and contributes to the cultural and economic betterment of the residents of Jefferson County.

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