Pierce Transit tax, Tacoma police bond approved

Pierce Transit will expand some services it provides and the Tacoma Police Department can look forward to a new headquarters, as Pierce County and Tacoma voters said yes to the respective measures during yesterday’s special election.

According to unofficial election results from the Pierce County Auditor’s Office, the three-tenths of one percent sales tax increase proposed by Pierce Transit was approved by 55,962 voters (53.94 percent), while 47,786 (46.06 percent) voters said no. A simple majority is all that is needed for this proposition to pass.

The additional tax revenue generated – about $27 million annually – would replace funding lost when the state Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) was eliminated after the passage of Initiative 695 in 1999.

MVET funds provided 38 percent of Pierce Transit’s operating budget.

Without the additional funding, Pierce Transit said they would have to drastically cut local bus service beginning in 2003, including cutting local bus service by 40 to 45 percent, scaling back SHUTTLE transportation for the disabled by 20 to 25 percent, halting the growth of vanpool services and Park & Ride lots and possible elimination of weekend services.

Meanwhile, Tacoma voters made members of the Tacoma Police Department happy by approving a ballot measure that would allow the city to build a new police headquarters at the old Costco site on South Pine Street, as well as four neighborhood substations, through the issuance of up to $34.3 million worth of 25-year bonds financed by an annual excess property tax levy.

Voters said yes to the new station with 19,030 votes (67.46 percent), with 9,178 (32.54 percent) no votes.

The wide margin of approval is expected to hold and expand, according to election officials. A 60 percent approval rate is required for this measure to pass.

Last fall, voters rejected a proposed $29 million police headquarters – which also required a 60 percent approval rate – with 53 percent voting yes.

Also appearing to pass is the Tacoma School District’s maintenance-and-operations levy, with 18,738 (60.82 percent) yes votes, to 12,071 (39.18 percent) no votes. This measure requires a 60 percent yes vote to pass.

The four-year, $258.7 million levy would help to pay for teachers, textbooks, supplies, special education, buses, student safety programs and athletic and arts programs in the state’s second-largest school district.

Pierce County Auditor’s Office officials will update election results on Friday, Feb. 8, at 4 p.m.