News & Media
CFTE Express Vol. 13 No. 2March 26, 2015
In This Issue …
- Another Transit Win
- Sales Tax Measure in Phoenix
- Vancouver Race in Trouble?
- 2015 TIC Giveaway
- Stand Up for Transportation Day
Another Transportation Victory in 2015
On St. Patrick’s Day, a $250 million infrastructure bond referendum cruised to victory in Atlanta. The vote was on two separate bonds, one worth $188 million for transportation investments and another for $64 million for municipal buildings and recreation centers. The city has listed 230 possible improvement projects the bonds would fund. The final vote was 88.2%- 11.8%.
The bond comes at a particularly tough time for Atlanta, as officials estimate that there is a $1 billion backlog in infrastructure repairs. City officials expect the bonds to be paid through cost savings, rather than tax increases. The successful measure is a tremendous step forward for improving Atlanta’s infrastructure.
Transportation ballot measures may become more common in the Atlanta metro area. Legislation making its way through the Georgia state legislature would give local counties more flexibility in using ballot measures to fund transportation. Under the legislation, counties could initiate referenda individually (instead of regionally) and sales tax measures could be proposed for fractions of a cent. Metropolitan Atlanta counties could begin holding measures in 2016.
The Urban Heart of Arizona to Vote on Sales Tax
In August, Phoenix residents will vote on a measure to increase the sales tax by 0.3 percent. The measure will partially support a new 35 year, $31.7 billion transportation plan recently approved by the city council. The proposed sales tax increase from 0.4 percent to 0.7 percent will raise $17.3 billion and replace the current transit tax that is set to expire in 2020. If passed, the measure would allow Phoenix to leverage the local funds to receive federal transportation grants.
Phoenix has a record of success on sales tax measures, including the current sales tax that was passed in 2000 and a Maricopa County wide sales tax in 2004. The yes campaign is already rolling ahead with the formation of MovePHX, an advocacy committee to promote the city’s transportation plan and referendum. The committee will be co-chaired by Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego and Martin Schultz, former co-chair of the Citizens Committee for the Future of Phoenix Transportation. This will certainly be a race to watch in 2015.
Trouble for Vancouver Referendum?
The mail-in campaign in metro Vancouver is now underway. Voters are considering a 0.5 percent sales tax to support new transit services, including subway services, light rail, and expanded bus services. Ballot measures are rarely used in British Columbia, and this measure is the first of its kind in the city of Vancouver. The campaign runs from March 16 – May 29.
Unfortunately, polls before the race suggest the voters are not completely sold on the measure. Critics have pointed to the transit agency’s bad reputation as a main driver behind the many voters resistance. In addition, there seems to be a serious generational divide on the issue, with the younger millennial generation in favor of the measure. Those on the yes campaign are trying to promote the measure as best they can, even going so far as creating viral videos and impromptu songs. With 10 weeks to campaign, the yes side still has a chance to turn things around.
It’s About to Get Rail for TIC Registration!
The early registration deadline for the 2015 Transportation Initiatives and Communities (TIC) Conference is March 31, only days away. Register today to receive the discounted registration price. In addition, we’ll be giving away five It’s About To Get Rail t-shirts to anyone who registers for the conference between now and March 31st. The shirts are a clever promotion of Kansas City’s newly minted streetcar.
This year, the 2015 TIC Conference will be held June 1-3, at the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Still unsure whether to attend? Take a look at our preliminary program to see what sessions you can expect during the conference. If the registration costs are an issue, CFTE is offering a limited number of scholarships to cover registration. Fill out this form to be considered for a scholarship.
Be sure to book your room at the Amway Grand hotel before April 30, 2015 to receive the discounted room rate. If you have any questions regarding the conference, be sure to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stand Up for Transportation Day!
On April 9, join communities and transportation advocates from across the country to send a message to Congress- it’s time to make a long-term investment in America’s transportation system. There are several ways you can get involved in Stand Up for Transportation Day. You can send a letter to your members of Congress, sign a petition, or Tweet/Facebook your members of Congress using the #SU4T. With the Federal Surface Transportation bill, MAP-21, expiring on May 31st, the entire transportation community must rally to push Congress to act before it is too late.