This post has been updated.
Although several sources of funding for cash-strapped King County now appear dead in Olympia (a utility tax on unincorporated parts of King County, for example, isn't happening), County Council chair Dow Constantine is hoping to get a chunk of funding from the federal stimulus, which will pay for infrastructure projects. Yesterday, Constantine introduced legislation that would designate a county employee to coordinate efforts at applying for stimulus grants and direct the county to work with other local jurisdictions in seeking stimulus dollars. "I'm a little nervous that we're not doing as much as we could" to ensure that King County is getting its share, Constantine says. Constantine—who thinks the stimulus could pay for as many as 23,000 in King County, of 75,000 statewide—says his "internal deadline is very quick--we want this done in three weeks." County council member Larry Phillips, who's also running for county executive, says he's cosponsoring the legislation but wants to push more for direct county expenditures on infrastructure projects. like light rail to the University District. "Obviously, I'm on the legislation, so I think it's a good idea," Phillips says. "My point is that following [the stimulus money] is one thing but my real emphasis is... putting people to work building things we can use for a long time."
Still alive in Olympia, for now: Several potential sources of funding for transit service, including a local-option vehicle-license fee and a property tax. "One can reasonably argue that property tax is not the best way to pay for transit, but one can also argue that we're in a crisis," Constantine says. Without the new funding, Metro faces a shortfall next year of around $100 million, which translates to 20 percent service cuts.