Tug of war over Metro continues: County Exec vetoes Council motion

King County Executive Dow Constantine recently vetoed a measure that would have begun cutting Metro service in September. - Contributed photo
King County Executive Dow Constantine recently vetoed a measure that would have begun cutting Metro service in September.
— image credit: Contributed photo

The tug of war over King County Metro and its funding continued last week, as King County Executive Dow Constantine vetoed a King County Council measure that would have begun cutting Metro service in September, but had held off on further cuts in 2015 for the time being.
"We need a reliable way to pay for bus service - but until then, we shouldn't spend money we don't have," Constantine said in a press release from his office. "We shouldn't use one-time money to pay ongoing expenses, and decisions to save or cut service should be based on objective criteria and data, not on politics. This ordinance falls short on all counts. I must respectfully veto this legislation, and ask that the Council keep working on a solution that is responsible and sustainable."
The Council ordinance, which passed 5-4, was characterized as "writing a big check without enough money in the bank" by Council Chair Larry Phillips.
"To operate the nation's 10th-largest transit system, carrying 400,000 riders a day on 1,300 coaches, requires thoughtful planning and fiscal responsibility," Phillips continued. "Unfortunately, while the legislation passed today strives to be thoughtful, it fails to be responsible. It is based on hopes and guesses, rather than on revenue that can be counted upon."
Joe McDermott, who heads the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee for the Council, said the vetoed motion went outside of the scope of the Council's strategic plan.
"Our strategic plan exists to take the politics out of bus route decisions. The ordinance adopted today is irresponsible and takes us off this path and does little to immediately address Metro's ongoing revenue shortfall," he said. "I'm hopeful we can find a more fiscally responsible path forward that keeps as many busses on the road as possible."
In Federal Way, the September round of cuts was anticipated to only affect Route 152, which runs along 272nd Street. According to the city's senior traffic engineer during a May 6 presentation to the city Council, Federal Way would start being impacted by the proposed Metro cuts in February 2015.
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