The Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners will hold a Special Called Meeting on July 31, to evaluate whether to rescind planned service reductions based on higher-than-expected sales tax growth.
The region’s sales tax growth may mean good news for Pierce Transit customers and employees who were bracing for service reductions and another round of layoffs on September 29.
Washington State Department of Revenue sales tax data show Pierce Transit sales tax collections averaging higher-than-expected growth for the first four months of 2013. If collections continue at this rate, the Agency’s sales tax revenue would show 11% growth for the 2013 budget cycle. Pierce Transit Board members will decide next Wednesday whether the four-month growth rate is sufficient justification for formally rescinding the service reduction plan it approved in June.
If the Board approves the rescission, a 28% reduction in service hours planned to take effect September 29 could be delayed until as late as June, 2014. Staff layoffs related to the operation of service at current levels of 399,000 hours (down from 417,000 due to operator attrition) would be rescinded and some formerly laid off employees would be recalled. In an ongoing effort to identify efficiencies and lower overhead, staff layoffs of about eight employees related to the Agency’s reorganization and consolidation of departments and facilities will go forward as originally planned. These layoffs were designed to achieve efficiencies, reduce the number of managers, and improve employee to management ratios.
The Board approved the September service reduction plan after voters rejected by 704 votes a sales tax measure that would have increased the Agency’s taxing authority from .06 of one percent to .09 of one percent. Pierce Transit reduced its operating and capital budget by $136 million, and reduced its annual service hours from 617,000 hours in 2008 to 399,000 in June of this year due to the failure of both the February 2011 and the November 2012 ballot measures. The September service reduction would have reduced the annual service hours to 300,000 hours and affected nearly every route in the system.
The Special Called Meeting will be held at Pierce Transit’s Training Center, Building 5, 3720 96th Street SW, Lakewood, WA 98499. For further information regarding Pierce Transit, visit www.piercetransit.org.