For the first time in its 30-year existence, Kitsap Transit will
employ a public information officer. You might think that’s a big
deal for me, a reporter. For you, not so much.
Just the opposite. I go to the meetings. When I need to talk to
somebody, I dial them up. That’s my job. Not being yours, you’re
harder for the agency to reach. Even if you had time, you wouldn’t
go to meetings. Transit needs to come up with other ways to engage
Until now, tasks normally handled by a public information person
were split up. They were considered “other duties as assigned,”
said executive director John Clauson.
“Right now it’s not something that’s a high priority of any one
person’s job description,” he said. “We need to focus more
attention on it.”
That might have been reinforced when a survey last year revealed
only a minority of Kitsapers knew about a cross-Sound ferry plan
the agency had been working on for years.
The going rate for a professional communications person starts
at $88,000, as determined by a salary survey of like agencies,
Clauson said. Intercity Transit in Olympia, a bit smaller than
Kitsap Transit, starts at $75,000.
Are they adding this position now to push the cross-Sound
passenger-only ferry plan, you might wonder. It crossed my mind.
The transit board will decide soon whether to ask voters to fund
the service. If yes, they’ll choose whether to put it on the ballot
in April or November.
Upon further review, a PIO wouldn’t be plugging the plan. It’s
“As a public agency, we can’t campaign,” Clauson said. “What we
can do is provide information, as long as it’s factual. They’re not
going to be a campaign manager.”
The prospective hire follows earlier marketing efforts that
include a new logo and revamped website that’s more appealing and
functional. Clauson holds quarterly community meetings. A website —
www.kitsapferries.com — has been created to provide ferry plan
“There’s a lot of information that we need to share and we just
need to do a better job of that,” Clauson said. “It’s very
important to us to remember who owns Kitsap Transit. It’s not me,
it’s the communities, and the communities have a right to
Kitsap Transit plans to add two other new positions this year —
operations supervisor and mechanic apprentice — and bump the ORCA
coordinator from half time to full time.
Transit board member Leslie Daugs of the Bremerton City Council
asked during a budget briefing whether it’s a good idea to be
adding positions with the “fiscal cliff” looming. That’s where
revenues are estimated to increase 3.5 percent a year while
expenses rise at a 5 percent rate. Kitsap Transit could be in a
deficit position as early as 2019.
Clauson said the deficit needs to be postponed through other
means, such as replacing diesel buses with those that run on
propane, which is cheaper.