Ben Franklin Transit Board to Discuss Reduction in Sales Tax Collection in April Board Meeting
On Thursday, April 14, Ben Franklin Transit’s Board of Directors is planning to discuss and consider two options pertaining to the reduction of sales tax collection and local funding of Ben Franklin Transit services. Both options will be presented via resolution enabling the Board of Directors to vote on the matter at the April 14 meeting.
Option #1: A request for the Department of Revenue to immediately reduce the sales and use tax BFT receives from six-tenths (6/10ths) of one percent (1%) to five-tenths (5/10ths) of one percent (1%), subject to a review by the BFT Board of Directors on the anniversary of this sales and use tax reduction. This option simply requires a majority vote from BFT’s Board of Directors. This option would TEMPORARILY reduce the tax rates residents’ pay by one-tenth (1/10th) of one percent (1%) for that period.
Option #2: A request for the Benton and Franklin County Auditors to place upon the ballot for the next general election, a proposition to reduce the imposed sales and use tax from six-tenths (6/10ths) of one percent (1%) to five-tenths (5/10ths) of one percent (1%) within portions of Benton and Franklin Counties. This option, if passed by voters of Benton and Franklin counties, would PERMANENTLY reduce the authorized sales and use tax Ben Franklin Transit is permitted to impose. The tax rates for residents would be permanently reduced by one-tenth (1/10th) of one percent (1%).
In March of 2022, Washington’s legislature passed a 16-year funding program to support and grow the state’s transportation sector. The funding package, named Move Ahead Washington, offered additional Transit Support Grant funding (called the Zero-Fare for Kids grant) for operating and capital expenses only. BFT must meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify for maximum funding under this initiative.
- Transit agencies must maintain sales tax authority at the rate that was in effect on January 1, 2022.
- Transit agencies must have a policy established by October 1, 2022, that provides riders 18 years of age and younger zero-fare on ALL travel modes.
If BFT’s Board of Directors choose to move forward with either resolution, Ben Franklin Transit will not be eligible for the estimated annual allocation of Transit Support Grants – estimated at $3.4M for 2022 and $4.6M per year for the next 15 years, for a 16-year total amount of approximately $75M. BFT will still be eligible to apply for project-specific grants. Additionally, a reduction of local funds would translate into a reduction of transit service, a reduction of transit staff, and/or a reduction of capital improvement projects.
During 2021 residents in Benton and Franklin counties paid an estimated $9.98 per month in sales tax. If either resolution is passed and sales tax collection is reduced by one-tenth (1/10th) of one percent (1%), the average tax paying resident would save $1.66 per month.
More details regarding the potential benefits and impacts of each resolution will be outlined at the April 14 meeting at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom. Additional details will also be available in the Board Packet, which will be posted online on April 8 at https://www.bft.org/about/agendas-minutes/. Per RCW 42.30.030, this meeting is open to the public.
Board Meeting Information:
Phone: 253-215-8782 / Toll Free: 877-853-5247
Meeting ID: 989 6217 8731 / Password: 833979
To sign up to speak during the Public Comments portion of this meeting, please visit the link below. Please note, public comments are limited to three (3) minutes.