It's time Kitsap Transit started serving public
June 12, 2008 · Updated 10:10 AM
"Officials from Kitsap Transit, in the wake of Proposition 1's almost universally expected failure, have started meeting to decide where to go from here. Unbelievably, some are actually suggesting the agency respond by offering up a similar, albeit more modest, levy on the ballot next spring.To do so would be more than futile; it would border on violating the public's trust.Proposition 1, which would have imposed a sales tax on Kitsap County residents for the purpose of restoring revenues lost in the aftermath of Initiative 695, lost handily during the Sept. 19 primary election, with around 55 percent of voters opposed to it. The only mystery was why that number wasn't higher.Predictably, Kitsap Transit officials and others in favor of Proposition 1 insisted on promoting the measure as a way to undo the effects the hated I-695. Professional bureaucrats and those inclined toward a large and intrusive public sector simply can't shake the belief that voters had no idea what they were doing when in 1999 they overwhelmingly approved reducing the price of auto tabs from a percentage of the vehicle's book value to a flat $30.The initiative, which also contained language that would have required public agencies to put all rate and fare increases to a vote, was overturned last spring by a Seattle judge. However the state Legislature, bowing to public pressure, subsequently voted to enact the $30 license tabs into law. As a result, public health and transportation agencies that counted on receving annual subsidies from Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) revenues were faced with huge budget shortfalls.Kitsap Transit, moving quickly, made drastic cutbacks in local bus service and raised fares as soon as the votes were tallied. What agency officials didn't anticipate was that, during the Legislative session that followed, lawmakers would find enough money from other sources to pass a budget that funded Kitsap Transit at nearly pre-695 levels. Just as I-695 supporters predicted they would.Rather than rescinding the service cuts and lowering fares, however, the agency's directors decided to spend a sizeable percentage of the unexpected windfall on capital projects. Meanwhile, Kitsap Transit's executive director helped himself to a hefty salary bonus. And then they had the brass to blame I-695 and the greedy taxpayers who supported it for the dilemma in which they found themselves.Let's be blunt. Voters weren't misinformed when they passed I-695 in the first place. They knew exactly what they were doing - trying to reduce the size of government and the percentage of their paychecks gobbled up by arrogant and unresponsive empire builders like the directors of Kitsap Transit.Instead of wasting time and public funds trying to persuade the voters to change their minds about the initiative, it's high time the folks at Kitsap Transit starting living up to its ideals -- the way they're supposed to. "