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 Clallam Transit System bus, paratransit, and vanpool programs.
Ballot Measure Summary—Impacts to WA State 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 (0.3%) 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 State Multimodal Account that provides funding for transit agencies, including Clallam Transit System—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 Clallam Transit System Service and Programs
The state currently pays approximately 15-18% of Clallam Transit System’s operating costs for services and vehicles. State grants also currently pay for 100% of paratransit bus purchases and 40% of vanpool vehicle purchases, as well as 100% of major equipment purchases.
If the initiative passes, the following may be in jeopardy:
• Fixed-route bus service
• Paratransit services for the elderly and disabled
• Vanpool Program
• Current planned expansion of the Strait Shot service to the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal
• Bus and van replacements
If Initiative 976 is approved by the voters, funding for the services and vehicles identified above may be disrupted and diminished. Clallam Transit System 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 Washington 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 Clallam Transit System Board.
In the meantime, this agency will maintain existing levels of service.
As always, Clallam Transit System will stay true to its mission to provide reliable, safe, comfortable public transportation service in Clallam County, which is cost effective, reduces energy consumption, and contributes to the cultural and economic betterment of the residents and visitors of Clallam County.