Also, creating an economic development strategy
The City Council on Monday scrutinized a status report on King County Metro's tough financial outlook, then approved sending a letter to the transit agency urging it to retain bus routes in Bellevue proposed for elimination or reductions.
Metro's service development manager told the council that King County is facing a projected $75 million revenue shortfall. If no additional revenue is found, it must cut 17 percent of its current service, which would affect 28 of the 33 routes it operates in Bellevue, or approximately 35,000 rides each weekday. Metro officials say they have already achieved ongoing annual savings of $148 million through cost-cutting, fare increases and other actions.
The council also heard about a proposal by the King County executive that would allow county voters to decide whether to offset the cuts by increasing the sales tax by one-tenth of a penny and imposing a vehicle license fee of up to $60. Pending County Council approval, a ballot measure could go before voters as early as April.
Bellevue's letter to Metro does not address the revenue proposal but does express Bellevue's concern about service cuts at a time when transit ridership in the city is at a record level. It recommends reducing or eliminating low ridership routes, while maintaining routes on the most heavily used corridors, such as service from downtown Bellevue to Kirkland, and service to and from Bellevue College.
Other letters expressing concern about Metro's proposed service cuts have come from the student government and the administration at Bellevue College, the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce and Seattle Children's Hospital.
Bellevue's letter and others, a list of bus routes that could be eliminated or reduced and other material is available with the council's study session agenda material.
Work on economic development
City staff and a consultant provided councilmembers with a second progress report on work to create a strategic plan to guide the city’s economic development efforts over the next three to five years. The plan is expected to be completed and approved by the council in March; work began in July 2013.
More information about the effort is available with the council's study session materials.
Following discussion about the economic development strategic plan, the council was briefed on a new initiative that fits into that larger effort: technology entrepreneurism in the Bellevue economy. The presentation summarized meetings held with Bellevue business and education leaders since mid-2013.
The initiative, called "Next Generation Bellevue," aims to grow and preserve Bellevue as a center for entrepreneurs, and to promote the city as a globally-connected hub of innovation.
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