Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Transportation Benefit District for Roads, Mobility, and Transit Passes in Bellingham

In case you didn't hear, there was a big election last night. 

There is still a lot in flux with last night's election in Washington State and I'll let the political blogs cover yesterday's wild night.

There was one important transportation focused measure in Bellingham that passed last night which may be of interest to you and is lost in the fray of everything else going on.

As you'll recall earlier this year Whatcom County narrowly rejected a .02% sales tax measure, which we endorsed and worked on, that would have saved bus service in Whatcom County.  In that election voters in Bellingham overwhelmingly approved the measure and everyone else in the rural areas of the county overwhelmingly rejected it.

After the WTA measure narrowly failed, The City of Bellingham under the leadership of their mayor decided to go back to the ballot to ask only Bellingham voters to approve a .02% sales tax increase to buy back transit service in the city and to back fill their underfunded road maintenance and bicycle-pedestrian infrastructure accounts. 

Jared at the Bellingham Herald reports that the sales tax increase for transportation and transit funding in Bellingham is passing at a comfortable 55%.  This is not surprising considering the transit measure passed with 60% in May. 

By passing this measure transit service should be able to stay much more intact within Bellingham, which is definitely a good thing, but the counter question is by using sales tax at the city level will that politically prevent WTA from going out to their entire taxing district for the rest of their sales tax authority in the future?  Regardless of that answer to that question, I think that public transportation districts at the city level are going to become an increasingly relevant short term solution to save transit service as we approach a very complex State Legislative climate in 2011.

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