Kitsap voters say no way to sales tax hike proposal

Transit officials looking ahead to ways to sustain service.

“No doubt about it, Kitsap County voters Tuesday night said no way to a proposed sales tax hike that was expected to partially restore Kitsap Transit service and fares to pre-Initiative 695 levels. During the last few months leading up to the primary election, Kitsap Transit officials hoped to recoup a majority of the funds state voters slashed last year with the passage of I-695. So they asked county citizens to raise the sales tax here by three-tenths of 1 percent. Had the measure, called Proposition 1, been approved, it would have generated about $7.5 million a year. In turn, those funds could partially heal the $10.2 million gash in Kitsap Transit’s budget created by the passage of I-695, which slashed the motor-vehicle excise tax that helps funds transportation across the state. All told, Kitsap Transit’s budget took a 43 percent hit in January after I-695 took effect. Initially, transit officials, in an effort to balance an uncertain, beleaguered budget, cut service by about 25 percent in January and doubled most fares. We knew it the vote was going to be close, but obviously we’re pretty disappointed, said Transit service development director John Clauson. But it’s too soon to tell how we are going to react to this latest development. Not until executive director Dick Hayes discusses several options next week with the transit board, can we announce any plans. “