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Pierce Transit to hold Feb. 8 public hearing on agency’s proposed 2021 budget

Pierce Transit’s Board of Commissioners will hold a study session and public hearing Feb. 8 on the agency’s proposed 2021 budget. Although the agency typically finalizes its budget in December, this year it pushed adoption out a couple months to gather more up-to-date sales tax returns, which will provide 87 percent of Pierce Transit’s operating revenues in 2021 (excluding funds collected for contracted Sound Transit regional service). Details of the meetings are as follows:
  • Study session, 3-4 p.m. The study session will cover the budget’s details and will be virtual via Zoom. The public may attend by calling 253.215.8782 and entering meeting ID 890 1166 1597 or by entering the following into their browser:  bit.ly/3teqBw2
  • Public hearing, shortly after 4 p.m. The public hearing will offer an opportunity for the public to weigh in on any aspect of the proposed budget and will be part of the regular Board of Commissioners’ meeting that begins at 4 p.m. on a separate Zoom meeting from the study session. Details for joining that meeting are available at PierceTransit.org/public-hearings-1.  

Given that there is still some uncertainty around the economy in 2021, Pierce Transit’s draft 2021 budget spends at approx-imately 2019 levels for maintenance and operations. Proposed spending for all capital and operating expenditures is approx-imately $306 million, and the agency’s six-year plan assumes modest 3 percent annual sales tax increases. Staffing levels for 2021 support service at 95 percent of pre-COVID levels and includes 960 positions, down 30 positions from 2020 and down 29 positions from 2019. Of the funded positions, 852 of them – or 89 percent – are directly related to service on the street in the form of transit operators, maintenance workers, customer service agents, public safety officers, service sup-port employees who provide support across the network wherever it’s needed, and other hands-on positions. The remaining 11 percent of staff are administrative employees that handle back-office operations, such as human resources, route plan-ning and other administrative functions. The budget’s reserves comply with required levels established by the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners, and the agency holds no long-term debt. 

Pierce Transit’s 2021 budget places a strong emphasis on safety, building collaborative partnerships, and providing innova-tive customer service and mobility options. It funds several operating and capital projects, as well as day-to-day activities that continue the agency’s focus on providing safe, reliable and innovative transportation options. While the majority of the budget funds personnel, other major items in the budget include replacement of aging buses, work on the agency’s 30-year old base to support more efficient operations, and replacement of the agency’s obsolete dispatch/vehicle locator system. Wherever possible, capital projects are funded from grants and other non-local sources.

The full draft 2021 budget can be found at PierceTransit.org/Budget-Finances (click on “2021 Preliminary Budget”). 

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