Opinion

What now, with Proposition 1 dead?

It’s been a week now since the Foot Ferry Fiasco and Bremerton hasn’t become a ghost town. There aren’t any “For Sale” signs on the houses of folks who work in Seattle and live here and who complained mightily about the time it took for the to and fro.

More and more of them, incidentally, are beginning to echo the sentiments of some of us old timers (if you can call a World War II arrival an old timer) that we were perfectly content with hourly car ferry service between Bremerton and Seattle. There’s no reason why that can’t be achieved again.

In fact, don’t give up on the state going back into the foot ferry service one of these days.

Remember the Warren Avenue bridge?

A bulging Bremerton wanted the state to build it and the state agreed on one condition. That tolls not only went on it, but the Manette Bridge as well. Everybody squawked because Manette was one of those rare bridges that was bought and paid for totally by the locals.

No state or federal money went into it, and a lot of folks didn’t want to pay the state to use it.

Take it or leave it, said the state, we can’t have a free bridge operating alongside a toll bridge, or we’ll never collect enough revenue to pay it off. Which is the same argument why the Tacoma Narrows Bridge couldn’t remain free and only the new one have tolls.

Everybody wound up paying — and by everybody, I mean fire trucks and school buses, too. But eventually the state took the tolls off and made them both free bridges.

Back to the ferries. What comes next? Well, I see Kitsap Transit manager Dick Hayes, who aspires to an empire of buses and ferries, talks about Round II, or was as this is being written. But Jim Metcalf, the lobbyist for Kitsap Transit (and the company building the Tacoma Narrows Bridge) told a Nov. 4 lunch gathering that if Proposition 1 went down, there would be no second try for it. He didn’t elaborate, but he said it twice, with what appeared to be finality.

So what happens next? Don’t forget Rep. Beverly Woods’ other bill besides the one that let Kitsap Transit try for a tax increase. It eliminates the ban on private ferry service within 10 miles of an existing state ferry run and the need to get a waiver to operate. It doesn’t kick in immediately, but gives time for a second ballot try if desired, but if that isn’t going to be, Rep. Woods said she would ask the 2004 Legislature to move up the date of its effectiveness so they can get cracking on rounding up a willing private operator.

What sunk Proposition 1? A slew of things, but chiefly the disinclination of Kitsappers to tax themselves to perform a service that should be the responsibility of the state. I never met a single person in the weeks before the election who was for Prop 1 except public officials and business people. Store clerks, retirees, young people, old people, everybody I asked about it said thumbs down.

The day before the election, I was talking to Tim Eyman about winning the constitutionality case on Initiative 776, limiting property tax increases to 1 percent a year, and he said if Prop 1 failed, the politicians had better get the message about hands off the $30 car tab.

“They are going to be asking people for $14 billion in tax increases next year to fund transportation,” he said. “What should have been a red flag was the fact that Seattle voters previously barely voted, by 800 votes, in favor of a vehicle tax to pay for the monorail. Going after the vehicle tax, as Prop 1 did in Kitsap, is a tough sell. We love all taxes in Seattle, but that’s not how things are in Poulsbo or Port Orchard. It is insane to go after a revenue source that is radioactive.”

Like messing with Social Security being the third rail for the feds, messing with the $30 car tab, thanks to Tim Eyman, may be just as lethal. Certainly, as he says, it has achieved radioactivity.

Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O., Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.

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