County Executive vetoes council's plan to delay metro cuts

SEATTLE -- In his first-ever veto, King County Executive Dow Constantine blocked a plan Monday to delay some drastic cuts to Metro Transit.

In a 5 to 4 vote, the county council approved an ordinance that slashes 160,000 service hours starting in September.

Three additional rounds of cuts would have been put on hold while the County and Metro looked for ways to fill an annual budget deficit of $75 million.

Some council members are hopeful the bulk of the cuts can be averted -- partially because of an increase in projected sales tax revenue. The plan also called for an independent audit of Metro's operations and policies.

Minutes after the vote, Constantine insisted four rounds of cuts are necessary and said the vote was not a responsible way of budgeting so he vetoed the plan.

"We can't budget based on hope, hope for higher revenues," he said. "This ordinance falls short on all counts. I must respectfully veto this legislation, and ask that the Council keep working on a solution that is responsible and sustainable."

King County Councilman Rob Dembowski was the prime sponsor of the delayed reduction in metro services ordinance

"I just thought that it was better to adopt only the cuts we needed to adopt and then do our budget and then rightsize the system," Dembowski said. "I think making only cuts necessary today allows us to make better decision in November when we have a fresh economic forecast ."

Constantine ordered the council to keep working on a solution.