King County Council adopts 2-year budget that staves off further bus cuts

SEATTLE -- The King County Council on Monday adopted a $9 billion 2015-16 biennial budget that fully finances current levels of Metro Transit bus service.

The "budget ensures that 400,000 annual hours of proposed service reductions at Metro Transit will not take place," Councilman Rod Dembowski said.

The council cut 151,000 hours of bus service in September.  These reductions cut bus routes that were in the bottom 25 percent of productivity, Dembowski said. Further reductions planned for next year were deferred pending additional council action and the adoption of the 2015-2016 budget.

“It has been an uncertain time for the nearly 200,000 people who rely on Metro every day to get to work, school, and medical appointments,” said Dembowski, chairman of the County Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. “Today’s action sent a clear, definitive, and united message from the County Council – there will be no further reductions of Metro bus service in this budget cycle. "

The growing economy, coupled with additional savings identified by Metro, allowed the council to stave off further cuts, he said.

The independent Office of Economic and Financial Analysis released their Metro sales-tax forecast in March and July, which came in much more robust than previously projected.

The county's budget plan also revives the King County Sheriff’s Domestic Violence Unit.