The Lakewood Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors acknowledges public transportation is an essential public service. It gets people with disabilities and low incomes to work, doctors’ appointments and retail stores.
Since 2007, the effects of the economic recession have impacted Pierce Transit with the decline in sales tax revenue. Pierce Transit receives 70% of its funding from local sales tax. In late 2007, Pierce Transit started to make adjustments to address the decline in revenue. Those actions have saved over $89 million from projected budgets through 2012. In addition, Adult fares were increased in January 2009, and again in November 2010. Even with these cuts and fare increases, a shortfall of $51 million will occur by the end of 2012.
Pierce Transit’s Board of Commissioners directed staff to develop two plans that depict two funding scenarios. The first was to manage a system with existing revenue. It’s been reported that this would result in a devastating reduction in the amount of service provided to the community by 35%. The second is to preserve service at current levels, which would require additional funding.
In order to preserve the current service available, Pierce Transit is asking for a .6% increase in the sales tax. This is indiscriminate whether you ride transit or not. This figure equates to $92.37 annually for every man, woman and child in Pierce County.
In these tough economic times when businesses and families are struggling and making cuts in their budgets, we think that Pierce Transit should do the same. Asking for a permanent tax for a temporary shortfall is not how business should be done. The Chamber Board believes that Pierce Transit must be fiscally responsible by utilizing their cash reserve, limiting non-essential services and reducing its overhead as we all must.
The Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, in good conscience, cannot endorse this proposition on behalf of our business community.