Tacoma Urbanist

Oct. 2, 2012 at 12:02am

Lakewood Chamber Joins Pierce County in Opposing Prop 1 Record Sales Tax Increase

The Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, along with the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, believes that imposing the record setting sales tax rate would be harmful to Lakewood businesses.  From the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce Website:

Chamber Position Statements

Lakewood Chamber of Commerce
Policy Position
Oppose Proposition 1 - Pierce Transit Proposed Sales Tax Increase

The Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners passed a resolution calling for the 0.3 percent sales tax increase vote. That would be three cents on a $10 purchase.

The board said the increase is necessary to restore access to essential services for seniors, the disabled and people who rely on Pierce Transit.

Pierce Transit says it has cut or saved nearly $111 million dollars in response to the recession, including cutting nearly half of its bus service and 19 percent of its work force.

In addition to the concerns of how the money is being collected and used, the proposed tax increase is permanent. The Chamber feels that a sunset would have been a more appropriate way to respond to a temporary dip in revenues. Pierce Transit is in contract arbitration with Local 758 Amalgamated Transit Union. It is unclear how much of the additional revenues from a tax increase would go toward employee salaries opposed to service restoration. Pierce Transit receives 70% of its funding from local sales tax. The other 30% should be rounded out by ridership ~ and not the majority of the population who do not use transit services.

In these tough economic times when businesses and families are struggling and making cuts in their budgets, we think that Pierce Transit should do the same.

We believe that Pierce Transit must be fiscally responsible by limiting services and further reducing its overhead as we must. The Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, in good conscience, cannot endorse this proposition on the behalf of our business community. ###


comments [21]  |  posted under tacoma


by L.S.Erhardt on 10/2/2012 @ 12:29am
Lakewood didn't vote for the buses last time either.

Too bad PT doesn't have a Ride Free Area to abolish like Metro did.

by L.S.Erhardt on 10/2/2012 @ 12:31am
I mean, it's not like the working-class people who can't afford a car or the people who don't want a car need to get around and do things like go to work or get groceries or anything.

by NineInchNachos on 10/2/2012 @ 1:23am
lakewood is a silly place.

by tacoma_1 on 10/2/2012 @ 6:08am
Getting rid of half the bus service to Lakewood isn't gonna make It a more better place to live. It'll do just the opposite. 
Lakewood's silly old Chamber is out of touch with the general population. They should be careful what they wish for.  Without bus service, Pierce County will have a rapid exodus to King County of young and old people unlike anything we've seen before. Housing prices will continue to stagnate here, meanwhile in the more livable transit rich King County, housing prices (and tax revenues) will continue to go up. IMHO. 

by fredo on 10/2/2012 @ 6:56am

The chamber indicated that the reason it opposed the increase is because it doesn't have a "sunset" provision. Therefore, if the proposal had a "sunset" provision perhaps they would have indicated support.  According to PT the tax increase is in response to a recession related temporary dip in revenues. The fact that there is no sunset provision means this is a lie. This is a PERMANENT increase in the tax rate and not a temporary increase tied to the recession.

by tacoma_1 on 10/2/2012 @ 7:36am
I can't think of a day in the future that I wish to have less transit, therefore the lack of a sunset provision is of no worry to me. 

After all. Would it a be bad if PT actually had enough money in the future to fund BRT or a street car?

by fredo on 10/2/2012 @ 7:55am

tacoma1, MORE people would support the tax increase if it was temporary rather than permanent. It sounds to me like you want the proposal to fail. Remember, pigs end up in the slaughterhouse.

by Erik on 10/2/2012 @ 7:55am
If the below graphic is right, Pierce Transit had record revenue of $124,000,000 in 2011.


I think it is reasonable to ask why they didn't ask for a lower tax increase request, or at least one which would sunset so Tacoma is not stuck with the highest sales tax rate in Washington for the foreseeable future.If other Washington cities can manage get by on 9.5 sales tax rate or less, so should Tacoma.

by Erik on 10/2/2012 @ 8:06am
Remember Former republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes?

He had a much (rightfully) maligned "flat-tax" proposal on income which would replace the current progressive federal income tax rates.


However, the taxing structure of Proposition 1 is far worse the Republican Forbes proposal.  It would actually impose a higher tax rate on lower wage earners.

"With regard to fairness, the committee estimated that "the lowest income households pay 15.7 percent of income for total excise [sales] and property taxes, while the highest income households pay 4.4 percent of income for the same taxes."

The Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy has concluded that, lacking an income tax, 'Washington State has the most unfair tax system in the nation.'"


by cisserosmiley on 10/2/2012 @ 8:33am
MakeTacoma even more taxed, maybe 20%, then invite new people to move here that would be proud to live like this. They can have my house :)

by NineInchNachos on 10/2/2012 @ 8:48am
liberate Lakewood! 

by fredo on 10/2/2012 @ 9:47am

liberate lakewood from high sales taxes...yes!!!

by The Jinxmedic on 10/2/2012 @ 10:56am
How about this? Let's have a 25% sales tax to restore all bus service, build a new transit center, pay the bus drivers a union-mandated "living wage" (at least $85,000 a year- more with overtime), and then we can live in our little utopia with no jobs and no businesses. Then I will either become a bus driver (and double my income doing so), or move to Argentina. (I have not yet decided which.)

by NineInchNachos on 10/2/2012 @ 11:10am
its in the hands of the people now comrades.

by Cheechmo on 10/2/2012 @ 5:15pm
PT just posted this: www.piercetransit.org/prop1/

"Pierce Transit depends on sales tax revenues for 71% of its operations.
We've seen 4 years of declining sales tax. Without additional funding
Pierce Transit will have to cut service by 53%."

From looking at the numbers in their article, as well as the graphic posted by Erik above, I just don't see how it all adds up to the MASSIVE cuts that they have made and will continue to make if/when this proposition fails.

In their article, sales tax revenue has dropped from a peak of $77 million in '07 to $63 million in '12. That's an 18% decrease. Meanwhile, in that period, they increased fares and made heavy cuts. Theoretically, that should have helped offset that 18% loss of tax revenue.

And looking at Erik's graphic, their income appears fairly consistent the last few years, and even trends upward if you consider the more distant past.

All I see from PT is the constant threats to keep cutting, but what the hell are they doing with all their money? I would love to see some more relevant data that shows WHY they need more tax increases and WHY they would have to make another round of huge cuts if they don't get it. If this has been released, forgive me, and clue me in please.

by cisserosmiley on 10/2/2012 @ 5:26pm
I understand PT's service area is smaller now too. Where my wife works in western pierce county bus service is gone...and PT wants more money...their operating costs should be lower now because these eliminated routes were costly.

by JesseHillFan on 10/2/2012 @ 5:45pm
I believe that the rider fares are not in keeping with higher costs of other goods and services.For instance the Senior Disabled rate is only $.75 and adult fares are just $2.00.Here is what I think should be done.The fares should be increased and less heavily subsidized by taxpayers.However I think perhaps progressive fares should be implemented like a progressive income tax.Those providing no proof of income unless they have proof of unemployment collecting (unemployment insurance etc) or making over $50,000 a year should pay $6 per ride (transfers O.K.),Those making less than $50,000 per year or above $25,000 should pay $4 per ride and those under $25,000 per year should pay the same $2.00 Adult fare.To get the under $6 per ride fare one should prove their income or lack thereof like the senior/disabled riders currently do.Also a discounted income I.D. card is needed.A $6 fare is still a good deal for those making the above $50,000 income level as it's still much cheaper than taking a taxi.In this way it wouldn't be a burden on those with low incomes or the senior or disabled riders. 

by NineInchNachos on 10/2/2012 @ 6:18pm
hey remember when their refueling station blew up?   I bet that cost a lot to fix

by Jake on 10/2/2012 @ 9:18pm
Ouch: www.piercetransit.org/prop1/

by fredo on 10/2/2012 @ 10:07pm

ha, Jake I noticed that Pierce transit conveniently left out a chart that would show the growth in union and salaried payroll at the agency. Why do you suppose they neglected to publish such a chart?

by low bar on 10/3/2012 @ 1:59am
Any chance OPEC is to blame for all this? Hummm?


Get. The. F*ck. Out. Of. The. Middle. East.