Ben Franklin Transit rejects sales tax reduction, preventing layoffs & grant restriction
KENNEWICK, Wash. — By a vote of 7-to-2, the Ben Franklin Transit board has rejected to move forward with a measure that would cut transit funding through a reduction to a local tax. The vote was confirmed during a board meeting on the evening of July 14, 2022, according to Jessica Schreindl at Transportation Choices Coalition.
If the proposal came to fruition, it would have resulted in dozens of layoffs and removed BFT from eligibility for a multi-million dollar Transit Support Grant which is expected to improve service and the quality of vehicles across the Tri-Cities area.
Russell Shjerven, Secretary Treasurer for the Teamsters Local Union No. 839, highlighted this decision as a win for transit workers and community members who rely on public transportation.
“This has been a long fight with the Board of Directors,” Shjerven said. “Teamsters Local 839 is happy that the BFT Board has decided to not only maintain its current funding stream but has the wisdom to position itself to receive an additional $75 million over the next fifteen years to keep our Local Transit Authority solvent into the future.”
This measure, which would reduce a sales tax by one-tenth of a percent, would have put the issue on ballots during the next general election.
“Tonight, the BFT Board made the moral choice and stood with riders,” stated Vanessa Pruitt—a BFT rider and fellow with Disability Rights Washington. “Benton Franklin Transit provides an invaluable service to those in need, including non-drivers and disabled individuals.”
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