Separate from the November vote on Seattle taxes to avoid Metro Transit cuts in the city limits, the King County Council has reached a deal today that changes the timetable for cuts. While the September cuts are still on as planned, and the number of hours scheduled to be cut February are to stay the same, here’s the biggest news for West Seattle: The round of cuts that was going to hit our area the hardest – originally scheduled for September of next year, involving route deletions – is not necessarily a sure thing; it will be worked out during the next round of county budgeting. (Here’s a document from last May showing which routes were to be affected in which phases.) The February cuts will be examined by a newly created committee, according to King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s version of today’s announcement. Here’s the County Council‘s version of the announcement, which includes the following explanation:
The ordinance approved today implements ONLY the service reductions originally proposed for September of this year, with a focus on cutting bus routes that are in the bottom 25 percent of productivity in accordance with the County’s adopted Transit Service Guidelines.
The adopted legislation also authorizes 188,000 hours of service to be cut in February 2015, but does not approve the specific routes to be eliminated or revised. The 188,000 hours would be adjusted based upon the recommendation of an ad-hoc committee created to review the July and August economic forecasts and additional financial data from Metro Transit. When the service reductions in February are set, the County Executive would transmit a service reduction ordinance for consideration by the County Council. …
The ordinance also calls for a report from the County Executive by September 30, 2014 describing revenue and expense reduction options available to avoid service reductions proposed for 2015. This report will build on existing work to identify further savings and additional revenue already underway by the County Council, including an independent audit of Metro’s operations, finances and fund balance policies, changing fare policies to increase revenue, and a peer review of Metro.
This isn’t because the county is suddenly flush with money; sales-tax revenues were actually down a bit in the last forecast, the county says, and it won’t get a new one until next month. But councilmembers pressed to shelve at least some of the cuts until the financial picture clarified. This doesn’t necessarily mean the cuts planned for fall of next year won’t happen – but the plan won’t be final until it gets closer.