Voters were approving a measure to raise the sales tax by two-tenths of a cent on every dollar to avert cuts to Intercity Transit and allow for a small service increase.
Based on preliminary results, the IT proposal was winning with 63 percent of the vote.
“We were hopeful that we would get these kinds of results,” General Manager Mike Harbour said of the initial results. “We’ll be able to maintain what we have, and we’re looking at doing kind of a modest service improvement, probably in February,”
People were asked to vote on the item in Intercity Transit’s 94-square-mile service area, which covers Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, Yelm and part of unincorporated Thurston County.
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If the measure goes on to passage, IT’s portion of the sales tax will rise to eight-tenths of a cent on each dollar purchase, from six-tenths of a cent. State law allows the authority to tax up to nine-tenths of a cent.
The measure is expected to generate $500,000 a year. The transit agency says it needs the extra dollars to make up for a marked decline in sales-tax revenue due to the recession. Sales taxes make up most of the budget – 76.6 percent last year.
The agency’s costs were higher than revenue last year, and unless it generates more revenue, it will have to cut, officials say.
If the measure succeeds, service will likely increase between The Evergreen State College and downtown Olympia on Route 41 and on routes 68 and 603, among South Sound cities, according to Intercity Transit.
If the measure fails, the transit agency plans to cut service by 23 percent. The first round of cuts would happen in February and likely would include the elimination of the Dash shuttle – three buses that provide free service between the Capitol Campus and the Olympia Farmers Market.
Other routes slated for elimination were Route 42, from South Puget Sound Community College and Thurston County Family and Juvenile Court in Tumwater. Lines targeted for reductions included 13, 41, 94 and 620.
A second round of cuts would have happened in 2012 and could have included the elimination of Sunday service and Route 67, from Tri Lake to Lacey.