Why not let the private sector do it?

The Nov. 4 tax proposal to pay for passenger-only ferries run by Kitsap Transit will be one of the most important issues in years. Ballots will be in the mail October 15.

Part of the passenger-only ferry service provided by these tax dollars will be on a route already covered by the Washington State Ferries.

The Economic Development Council and Kitsap Transit says this will bring prosperity and growth to our county and that businesses want these taxes, but I don’t see a business tax on the ballot. We have had passenger-only ferries on the Bremerton run for 12 years, and each time new boats were purchased that same argument was used.

What will be the cost to low-income people and those on fixed incomes who must spend every dollar they have coming in? This is an unfair burden to those who can least afford it.

Two private companies, at least, are ready to start working to provide the passenger-only ferry service if the state and county will cooperate. These companies would provide the boats and service with no tax increase. Kitsap Transit is not giving us the full story.

This is a big liability to be taken on by us taxpayers, and we are given the impression there is no other way. Our elected officials need to make it possible for the private sector to operate passenger only ferries.

Our transit system pays no business and occupation tax, no property tax and receives government grants, which are also our tax dollars. Private companies should have a chance to do the job first.

Washington State Ferries is giving up its passenger boats due to the high cost and other factors. Can the taxpayers of our county really afford the passenger only ferries at all costs?

According to Kitsap Transit, the riders of the ferries who work in Seattle and live here make about 40 percent more an hour over what they could make in Kitsap County but still expect the taxpayers to subsidize them by nearly $18 per round trip.

Kitsap Transit now receives eight-tenths of 1 percent in sales tax, which brings in more than $22 million per year. With the new taxes, they will receive more than $33.3 million per year, which comes to 1.1 percent out of the 2.3 percent of total sales tax sent back to the county from the state collection.

That is too large a portion of our total sales tax to one agency. It is a lot of money that will not be spent on consumer goods within Kitsap County.

According to the Kitsap Transit website, our bus service receives only 7 percent of its cost from the fare box.

The ferry service between Port Orchard and Bremerton, which once made a profit, and was purchased by Kitsap Transit now takes in only 20 percent from the fare box. Taxes are paying the balance on all of these transit runs. It does not seem like good management to me.

Do we need another form of publicly funded transportation when the private sector is willing to try to offer it without increases in sales taxes and vehicle renewal taxes?

Sound Off is a public forum. Ayvon Card is a Port Orchard resident.

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