Public Transportation Improvement Conference votes to exclude Bonney Lake, Sumner and Buckley

The cities of Bonney Lake, Sumner and Buckley are now one step closer to being out of the Pierce Transit district.

The Public Transportation Improvement Conference on Thursday unanimously voted to re-draw the busing utility’s boundaries to exclude the three cities, along with a handful of others who expressed interest in leaving the district.

According to Pierce Transit Spokesman Lars Erickson, approximately 20 people spoke during a public hearing Thursday.

Erickson said nine spoke in favor of the map, six opposed and the rest talked about service, but not the new map in particular.

Erickson also said speakers and the committee re-affirmed that they wanted transit service in their communities, but they did not think Pierce Transit was providing their cities with that service.

Generally speaking, the new boundary map mirrors the February 2011 Proposition 1 vote on a tax measure Pierce Transit said was needed to keep the system afloat.

However, even with the additional taxes, much of the eastern part of the county was set to see reductions in service, prompting voters to shoot down the measure. More than 64 percent of voters in the 31st Legislative District, which includes Bonney Lake, Sumner and Buckley, rejected Proposition 1.

The Bonney Lake City Council Tuesday night passed a resolution stating just that.

Members of the Bonney Lake council have said in the past they support public transit, but do not believe it is fair that they continue to pay taxes to a transit district that eliminated service through the city in October.

The council reiterated that stance Tuesday.

The county Council now has 30 days to reject the plan. If they do, the transit authority’s boundaries would remain the same as they are now. If the council takes no action, the cities remaining inside the boundaries will have 60 days to decide if they still wish to remain part of Pierce Transit, as long as their decision doe snot create an island or donut hole of service.

Following the 60-day period, the new map will go to the state auditor and the Department of Revenue. Changes to the way taxes are collected go into place quarterly, meaning any changes to the sales tax rates in the cities no longer part of Pierce Transit would go into effect July 1 or Oct. 1 depending on when the Department of Revenue takes action.