King County Council member Julia Patterson, a Democrat who represents South King County, tells PubliCola that she is not committed to a 'yes' vote on a temporary $20 fee to pay for Metro bus service. Without the fee, Metro faces 17 percent cuts to service starting in February---a $60 million annual shortfall.

Earlier today, PubliCola reported that Patterson's Democratic colleague Bob Ferguson now says he supports passing the fee, which would require a two-thirds (six-member) vote of the King County Council. Four of the council's five Democrats now support the fee, but the council's four Republicans have said they will not support it. The council could also put the fee on a countywide ballot by a simple-majority vote.

Patterson says her district has "a lot less to lose with those [Metro] cuts than Seattle districts." Under a new plan for allocating cuts, South King County would lose fewer hours of service from the cuts, but would gain less service from the fee, than other, more affluent King County districts. "I'd be asking my people to pay $20---my poor and working-class people---to subsidize bus service in wealthier Seattle districts," Patterson says.

"It's almost unjustifiable to me, when you look at the amount of money they would be raising by collecting that $20 on every car and you look at the amount of bus service I would lose," Patterson says. "I am representing the poorest district in King County. My people are struggling harder and working with less. ... Twenty dollars might not seem like that much to someone who lives on Queen Anne or Magnolia, but it's significant to my people."

Patterson does say that she's "100 percent willing and able to support putting a fee on the ballot." However, it's unclear whether voters would support a fee for transit now. Last year, a countywide sales tax for public safety failed 44-56.