In The News: Economic Challenges & Bus Preservation

Clark County budget chief outlines new challenges from weak economy

The slow moving economy has created financial challenges that Clark County must address in the coming months, according to Budget Director Jim Dickman.

During a Board of County Commissioners work session this morning, Dickman said housing and construction markets have continued to deteriorate this year, reducing revenue to the county and decreasing prospects for significant improvements by 2012.

“The county is short on real estate excise taxes and we are barely meeting projections on sales tax,” Dickman said. “We can keep the budget in balance if we start planning to confront the red flags right now.”

In addition to lagging real estate excite taxes, lodging taxes and revenues from the Clark County Event Center are also sluggish, according to Dickman.

To ensure that existing debts are paid on time, Dickman said the county will need to revamp current plans for capital spending or use General Fund dollars to make up for other revenues not keeping pace with debt payments. However, he added that the General Fund is in delicate balance, and the county should avoid placing too many demands on it.

GVCC & ICC support bus preservation plan

Both the Identity Clark County (ICC) Board of Directors and the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce (GVCC) Board of Directors have announced their support for a November ballot measure that would maintain bus transportation service for county residents.

Proposition 1 is on the November 8 ballot to provide a 0.2 percent (two cents on a ten dollar purchase) increase in general sales tax to raise C-TRAN’s funding to a level just above what it was prior to the loss of stable funding in 2000.

“This is a small tax that will have a large return on investment in our community,” said Chairman of the GVCC Board, Jeff Woodside in a press release. “The two cents on every ten dollar purchase will ensure access to transportation for employees, students, seniors and the disabled. GVCC stands firmly behind C-TRAN in its request to the community for support.”

Proposition 1 would also ensure that the federally mandated C-VAN service is able to meet its growing demand. C-VAN is the paratransit, reservation-based service for those with disabilities that prevent them from boarding or riding C-TRAN’s regular bus service.

“One of the true measures of the quality of life in a community is how that community provides the means for all of its citizens to access all that it has to offer,” said Ed Lynch, chairman emeritus of the ICC board. “Without a decent public transit system, many of our disabled, elderly, youth and lower income residents would be unable to attend school, hold good jobs, shop at our local stores or access critical services. Proposition 1 insures that Vancouver and Southwest Washington continues its strong tradition of supporting the more vulnerable in our communities.”

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