Opinion

King County Proposition 1 not a great idea for Enumclaw | Rich Elfers

“Save buses and fix roads in ALL of King County”, the campaign ad we received in the mail strongly states. Unfortunately, this ad doesn’t tell the whole story for Enumclaw. There’s much, much more of a backstory that you need to consider before voting on Proposition 1.

The reason that Proposition 1 is up for a vote on the April ballot is the utter frustration of the King County Council with the state Legislature. The Legislature has been unable to pass a comprehensive transportation bill, again. Roads and transportation are really issues that belong to the state, but polarized partisan politics have again and again blocked any bill from getting through both houses of the legislature.

The County Council finally decided that if the roads were to be fixed and Metro Transit was not going to have its services cut, something had to be done. Proposition 1 was their answer. For most of King County, Proposition 1 is a good solution. It just isn’t the best answer for Enumclaw. Here’s why:

Reason 1: Enumclaw City Councilman Mike Sando, city representative on the Suburban Cities Association, told me, “We still will get Metro cuts whether we vote yes or no.” There will be fewer buses coming to and leaving Enumclaw because Enumclaw just doesn’t have the ridership necessary to continue at current levels. The county wants to continue busing where it will help the greatest number of people. The greatest ridership is in the Puget Sound Basin, not on the Enumclaw Plateau.

Sixty percent of the funding raised from Proposition 1’s $60 car tab will go to Metro. Enumclaw will receive about $260,000 per year to fix city streets from Prop 1, but most of the money will be spent on the urbanized areas of King County. The Enumclaw Council also recently passed an additional $20 car tab fee to fix streets, making our street construction total $520,000 per year, assuming Prop 1 passes. Twenty dollars is also supposed to be reduced from property taxes whether Prop 1 passes or not.

Reason 2: When the campaign ad, or Dow Constantine via robocall, tells us the county will fix roads in “ALL of the county,” they’re not exactly accurate. Go to an Internet search engine and type in “King County road services – our future.” You will be taken to a map of King County with proposed road improvements. If you look carefully, there are no roads scheduled to be improved in the Enumclaw area. The nearest sites are in Auburn and Black Diamond. (The state will be repaving part of Griffin soon, not the county.)

Scroll down to the bottom of the map and you will see a link to bridges scheduled to be fixed. Going to that map, we only have one on Mud Mountain Road, just off SR 410 as you head to Buckley. The bridge is about the length of a car and crosses over Boise Creek before it flows into the White River. (It’s very possible the county will close that section of Mud Mountain Road rather than fix the bridge.)

We could have done better with our own Transportation Benefit District, which the Enumclaw Council had created previous to King County creating theirs. That way all the tax money would have gone to fix Enumclaw streets.

When the city asked to be dropped from the area considered for King County’s TBD, we were told no, even though most of the money will not benefit Enumclaw. King County wants our tax money to benefit the more heavily populated areas of the county.

Reason 3: Low-income people are supposed to be able to get a $20 reduction in the $60 car tab increase with the passage of Prop 1. There are two problems with that: $40 is still a lot of money for the very poor and many poor will not even be aware of the reduction and will have difficulty knowing how to take advantage of the rebate because of the bureaucratic and demeaning paperwork involved.

My wife and I have voted against Proposition 1, fully knowing that King County probably had the money to do a survey to see if it would pass before the measure was even put on the ballot.

Prop 1 will likely pass whether Enumclaw votes for it or not. If I lived in the more populated parts of King County, I would have voted for it. The metropolitan areas of King County benefit from our taxes dollars while we don’t. That’s a sad state of affairs, but a common theme when Enumclaw deals with the Big Boys and Girls on the County Council up north. Don’t always believe what you read in campaign ads or hear on robocalls.

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