State extends short lifeline to Island Transit

"The Washington State Legislature extended a short lifeline to Island Transit when it adjourned last week, but the money won't last long.The financial rescue amounts to $593,000, according to Sandra Kirkendall, administrative and financial manager for Island Transit. That's 24 percent of what we lost, she said Monday. It's less than two months' operating funds.Island Transit lost about two-thirds of its funding when I-695 was approved by voters last November. That measure slashed the state motor vehicle excise tax from which Island Transit derived money both directly and through the use of the MVET for sales tax equalization.Early last week, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, estimated the legislature would cover 80 percent of Island Transit's losses for this year. But she was apparently referring to only a portion of the shortfall, according to Kirkendall. A more comprehensive look at the budget shows only 24 percent of the funding was restored by the legislature.Not that Island Transit is ungrateful for the help. It's a great help between the vote and when the sales tax comes in, Kirkendall said.The vote she referred to is a May 16 special election in Island County. Voters are being asked to raise the sales tax three-tenths of one percent to permanently restore most of Island Transit's funding. But even if approved, Kirkendall said it will take several months for revenue to start flowing in.If voters reject the tax increase, Island Transit will have to drastically cut back service. If the vote fails there's no place to get it (the money), said Kirkendall. We're up a creek."

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