Imagine life without your car.
How do you get to your kids’ sports events? How about work? What if you run out of milk?
For many Harborites those questions are real concerns now that buses don’t run on weekends. For many of us with our own transportation, they may only be hypothetical worries, but put yourself in their shoes for a minute.
What if something catastrophic happens and you are suddenly thrust into that position? It’s not all that far-fetched for most of us.
On the ballot is a measure that could make those concerns go away. A sales tax increase of just 0.1 percent, Grays Harbor Transit officials say it would fill the budget gap needed to put buses back on the road on the weekends. This small sales tax increase could get people to work, to their kids’ sporting events, to the grocery store.
To us it’s a no-brainer. The transit authority isn’t asking for a major bond or huge tax increase. It’s an amount we all will barely even notice at the checkout stand. It’s not burdensome or unnecessary. In our estimation it’s a justified expense.
Our only worry is that, as budgets continue to tighten, this may be too small of a Band-Aid to cover the wound. According to state law, transit authorities can collect up to 0.9 percent sales tax levies to pay for their services. Grays Harbor Transit already collects 0.6 percent from Harborites. After this latest increase, the transit authority won’t have much more room to collect if the budget gets more challenging.
And Grays Harbor Transit isn’t the only one in trouble. King County Metro and Sound Transit already collect the maximum 0.9 percent, and are still struggling with cuts because of ailing budgets. Grays Harbor Transit must be frugal, and it must look ahead.
But, most importantly, this increase must be used to restart weekend service, even if the cost is cutting some weekday routes to compensate if the budget picture doesn’t improve. The transit authority would lose all credibility with voters, and this editorial board, if they do anything different.
We’ll be voting “yes,” but we’ll also be sure to hold their feet to the fire in the coming months to make sure the buses keep running.
The Daily World editorial board is made up of Publisher Bill Crawford, Editor Doug Barker, City Editor Dan Jackson and Sports Editor Rick Anderson.