C-Tran decision on light rail voter makeup postponed

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

Related story

C-Tran director: Most Columbia River Crossing concerns settled

After a heated discussion last month over who would vote on a sales tax increase for light rail and bus rapid transit, the C-Tran Board of Directors quietly decided Tuesday night to postpone that decision until after the November election.

C-Tran board members said they want to focus on seeing its 0.2 percent sales tax to preserve existing bus service pass in November before deciding details, such as the size of a taxing district, for a 2012 vote.

The C-Tran board split in May over whether to put out a sales tax increase for high-capacity transit in 2012 to a subdistrict — such as Vancouver and its urban growth boundary, for example — or before the agency’s entire service district, meaning voters in Yacolt also would have sway over service in downtown Vancouver.

Vancouver’s three representatives from the city council threatened to use a bloc veto to stop the board from deciding last month, saying more information was necessary.

Clark County Commissioner Marc Boldt, who is the C-Tran Board chairman, said Tuesday that the board shouldn’t drag the matter along.

“We’re very committed to going to voters in 2012 for our part of the Columbia River Crossing,” Boldt said. “Rather than carry this on, I think we need to make some decisions. We can’t keep talking about districts or subdistricts.”

He pushed the board to either say they were going to have staff bring more information soon, or commit to choosing after November’s bus service vote.

La Center Mayor Jim Irish said he didn’t want to dilute November’s ballot measure with the controversy over light rail, and he also wanted to know more about what a districtwide versus subdistrict vote would mean.

“I would like to see it laid out in front of me — how it’s going to impact all cities,” he said. “Let’s get the bus service ballot measure passed. I would like to concentrate my efforts on that.”

Vancouver City Councilor Larry Smith agreed, saying: “There’s no rush into doing it. The most important thing is to focus on November.”

“So I guess right now we’re committed to a vote in 2012,” Boldt concluded.