Proposed Plan Could Cut Millions From Tri-Cities Public Transportation

Ben Franklin Transit


NWPB’s Dori Luzzo Gilmour reports on a proposal to cut millions from public transportation in the Tri-Cities / Runtime – 1:39


The Ben Franklin Transit Board met earlier this month and began discussions about cutting taxpayer approved funding. A proposed cut could mean the transit system loses millions of state dollars. 

With the new state law being signed by the Governor Jay Inslee, “Move Ahead WA”, Ben Franklin Transit or B-F-T would be eligible to receive millions of dollars of state funds. One condition; they go fare-free for riders under 18, and maintain their local sales tax authority. 

Earlier this month at the BFT Board meeting, Chair Clint Didier raised the proposal to cut the tax authority. First, he raised the point that BFT fare revenue is down Then Didier said he wants to let: 

“The public decide if they think that we should take away one tenth of one percent away from Ben Franklin Transit, Didier said.  “Because after all, this is their transit system, they are paying for it, and I have had numerous people talk to me and complain to me about the fact that the buses are running and nobody is on it.” 

Last year, the BFT Board unanimously voted to keep its full taxing authority after a public outcry when cuts were proposed. A new board was seated in January, and new board Chair Will McKay agrees with Didier to cut their tax authority. When asked about the proposed “free rider” program with Move Ahead WA, McKay initially said he was opposed. McKay also explained about the proposed removal of the tax. 

“That four million dollars to five millions dollars will not affect, would not affect Ben Franklin Transit before this bill came through,” he said. “But now with this bill, we need to look at it as a board, with the staff, to see what this will do.” 

BFT would be required to maintain their local sales tax authority at the current funding levels according to communications director Marie Cummins. If either requirement is not met and submitted by October 1st, they could lose part or all of the state tax dollars.

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