Opinion

There's a lot to dislike about Prop. 1

Are you in favor of raising the sales tax in Kitsap County three-tenths of a cent to 8.9 cents, making it the highest in the state, to build and operate our own personal fleet of foot ferry boats? In addition, that is, to increasing the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax three-tenths of a cent to go with it?

Me neither. Well, I shouldn’t say me neither, because there are people here who are hot for it, and will use every argument they can come up with to talk you into it voting for what will be Proposition 1 on the Nov. 4 ballot. Business interests want it, chambers of commerce want it, Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman and his regime want it.

My opposition stems from my conviction that providing transportation is a responsibility of the state, not each county, especially since “our” ferries would be running between here and other counties, not just from Southworth to Bremerton to Winslow to Kingston, etc.

In fact, I don’t much care if we have foot ferries at all. I would be perfectly happy to have the auto ferries run hourly schedules, as they did for many years. And how many foot ferry riders are willing or can afford to pay $9-$10 per round trip — twice what the car ferry costs passengers?

I attended a meeting the other day of the Shoreline Conservation Alliance, the group of beach dwellers who sued the state over damage to their property caused by wakes of the current foot ferries, which would be replaced by 14 smaller, 149-passenger boats that leave less wake, use less fuel and require fewer crew. Or so says Dick Hayes, the Kitsap Transit manager who is the head honcho of the buses and wants to add ferries to his domain.

Alliance members got a $4.5 million settlement, which, sans attorney fees, came down to $2.9 million divided among 115 of them. Each got $3,000 plus whatever was attributed in each case to individual property damage, structural damage, etc.

Some have had work done to repair their damaged beaches, some are waiting for their turn where work is done in groups, etc. Some, I suspect, will take the money and run, i.e., use if for other things besides beach repair.

Their chief concern about the ferry fleet is that the old beach erosion problem will be back. They will work with political consultant Sharon Gilpin’s newly formed Citizens for Affordable Transportation (CAT) in resisting the increases. She opposes everybody being taxed to benefit 2 percent of the population, believes that shifting ridership from car to foot ferries will cause car ferry fares to rise and thinks there is no reason to believe passing Proposition 1 will cut traffic on SR 305 as proponents claim (traffic of cars going for the Bainbridge ferry).

There were other people there besides Alliance members, so I asked attendees why they opposed it. Most said “beach erosion” and/or “higher taxes.” Other answers: “It will be an economic disaster for Kitsap County,” “It will put Kitsap County into bankruptcy,” “I’m not paying for something I will not use,” “It’s a huge economic boondoggle,” “If you want to go to Seattle, why should I pay for it?,” “The environmental impact,” “Kitsap Transit should stick with buses, ferries can’t make a profit,” “This is too quick to move without proper evaluation,” “It would be opening a can of worms in costs we can’t imagine,” “This is not San Francisco Bay,” “Sales tax should not be used for that purpose.” “It is the state’s responsibility,” and “If you like Sound Transit, you’ll love Kitsap Transit.”

Speaking of boondoggles, I can’t think of a worse one than building a $24 million tunnel under downtown Bremerton to speed offloading of ferries, unless it’s that solid concrete wall separating traffic on SR 303.

Geez, we do some of the dumbest damn things just because the money is available, and apparently the feds are putting it up for the tunnel. Downtown is going to be torn up for years just so Norm Dicks and Patty Murray can brag they bring home the bacon whether we need it or not.

Pork is something we Kitsappers have never tried to resist. No wonder government costs so much.

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