By Dawn Feldhaus
Heather Acheson contributed to this article.
The Washougal City Council issued a vote of confidence for local C-TRAN board member Linda Dietzman during a meeting last night, while the Camas City Council expressed a general consensus that the current bus service should be preserved.
The Camas discussions occurred during a workshop, so no vote was taken.
The talks affirmed that the two-tenths of a percent sales tax increase should be on the November ballot.
The most important thing we can do right now is to preserve the bus service we have, said Camas councilwoman Dietzman.
The Washougal council vote of 3 to 2, included opposition by Jon Russell and Michael Delavar. Dave Shoemaker and Jennifer McDaniel had excused absences.
The resolution, written by Councilman Paul Greenlee, mentions that Dietzman has spent the time and effort to become a knowledgeable and well-informed board member.
We believe that the interests of Washougal are best served by the experienced and prudent representation of Council member Dietzman, the resolution stated. We therefore will depend on our representatives expertise, in the issue of for what, whether and when, C-TRAN will seek voter approval for sales tax levies.
Russell said he was concerned with Greenlees resolution.
Last Monday was the first time [Dietzman] has come before us or asked for our opinion, Russell said. The board is promoting C-TRAN. It is not always in the best interest of taxpayers.
Prior to the vote on Greenlees resolution, Delavar said C-TRAN should adjust its budget instead of mentioning route cuts.
He favored urging the C-TRAN board to refrain from putting either measure on the ballot.
Molly Coston said it is important for voters to have an opportunity to say yes or no on both issues.
Rod Morris said he would be in favor of asking Dietzman to put both measures on the ballot and let voters speak.
One measure would involve a two-tenths of a cent sales tax increase, to pay for phase one of the 20-year Transit Development Plan. That would include improved service frequency on routes serving Vancouver, Camas, Washougal and Battle Ground.
It would also add routes to serve East Vancouver and connect Fishers Landing with Vancouver Mall, while extending routes to Legacy Hospital, Washington State University-Vancouver and Salmon Creek.
If that sales tax increase is not approved by voters in November, cuts would have to be made. They could include reducing the frequency of several routes.
A second measure, which could be placed on the November ballot this year or next year, would involve a one-tenth of a cent sales tax, to pay for the extension of light rail across the Columbia River to serve downtown Vancouver and Clark College.
If the second measure is not voted on prior to July 2012, it could be up to the voters in Vancouver to decide as a subdistrict could be formed.
Russell said he was concerned if the second measure is on the ballot next year, the subdistrict would lock Washougal out and we would still pick up the tab for light rail.
The deadline to file a measure for the November ballot is in August, Dietzman said.
The next C-TRAN board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 12, at 5:30 p.m., in room 680, in the Clark County Public Service Center, at 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver. It will include a public hearing regarding a proposed five cent increase on cash fares. The meeting agenda has not been released, prior to press deadlines. For more information, call 695-0123 or visit www.c-tran.com.