News & Media
Vol. 10, No. 3June 26, 2012
In This Issue …
- Weston WI Votes for New Transit Service
- North Carolina: 2012 Vote in Orange; No Vote in Wake
- Pierce County WA Launches Campaign for Nov.
- Anti-Tax Rhetoric Derails Transit Measure in Arkansas
- Upcoming Measures
- Recent Reports
Weston, WI Votes for New Transit Service
After public funding for Metro Ride bus service was cut in 2011, local transit advocates filed a lawsuit against the village of Weston, WI which resulted in a public vote on service restoration. In the weeks leading up to the June 5th vote, supporters in the community campaigned door to door encouraging voters to support the ordinance that would require officials to provide weekday bus service starting in 2013. With widespread community support from riders and non-riders alike, the measure passed with 64% in favor of the ordinance.
The measure did not, however, specify from where funding would be derived, and there were no other ballot measures calling for an increase in taxes. Shortly after its approval, Weston village board members voted to overturn the referendum, citing the lack of a clear funding source. By June 18, village leaders agreed to drop their pending appeal against the bus referendum in a unanimous vote. With a majority of the community in support of the system, the only question now is how to fund the project. Local officials are currently searching for the funds to pay for the service, looking to see if it can fit into the current budget. If not, voters will likely face another referendum in the coming months to provide financing.
For more information on 2012 transportation ballot measures, visit our website.
NC: Orange to Vote in Nov.; Wake Officials Refuse to Put Transit on Ballot
Earlier this month, Orange County Commissioners agreed to put a half-cent transportation sales tax before voters in November. In a failure of leadership, officials in Wake decided last week that voters in their county would not be allowed to weigh in this year on whether to increase regional transportation investment.
After the North Carolina General Assembly granted authority in 2009 to the counties of Durham, Wake and Orange to each take a half-cent transportation sales tax it was believed that local officials would shortly thereafter take the opportunity to voters. In November 2011, after approval by the Board of Commissioners, Durham County voters were given the opportunity to weigh in on transportation investment. The measure to generate an estimated $18.3 million annually was approved by 60% of voters. The funding will be used to support a 25% boost in bus service and to help launch commuter trains and light rail over the next 15 years.
Pierce County, WA Launches Campaign for Nov.
After a close and disappointing loss in February 2011, Pierce County is going back to the ballot this November with a 0.3 cent sales tax increase to support countywide bus service. After three rounds of lay-offs and a 43% reduction in service, the community is badly in need of new funding for Pierce Transit.
The Restore Transit Now campaign asks voters to approve the sales tax to stave off an additional 38% cut in service. This would mean that weekend bus and paratransit service would be eliminated and weekday wait times would increase to over an hour. The campaign estimates that Proposition 1 would cost the average voter only $3.33 per month.
Campaign events can be followed on their Facebook page.
Anti-Tax Rhetoric Derails Transit Measure in Arkansas
On May 22, efforts to increase transit investment in Washington County, AR, were brought down by anti-tax rhetoric. After more than two years of excitement and support for the measure in Washington County and neighboring Benton County, the campaign took an unfortunate turn in the final weeks before the vote. Voters rejected a countywide quarter-cent sales tax increase designed to support Ozark Regional Transit.
What initially started out as a campaign to extend routes to better accommodate the elder, low-income, and disabled of Washington County became an ideological battleground between those in support of public goods and those fighting against big government and taxation. With the debate centered on ideology, the issue of transit was all but lost. Leading up to the election in which several state Senate Republican primaries were won by candidates who ran on an anti-tax platform, local papers published more opinion pieces on taxation than on the benefits of transit investment for the community.
Upcoming Transportation Ballot Measures:
-The 10-county metro Atlanta region votes on a 1 cent transportation sales tax.
-Genesee County, MI votes on a five-year renewal of a 4/10 of one mill property tax for Your Ride, operated by the Mass Transportation Authority
-Douglas, Saugatuck and Saugatuck Township vote on a reinstatement of a 5/10 mill property tax to support service by the Interurban Transit Authority
Infrastructure 2012: Spotlight on Leadership, Urban Land Institute
This is the sixth report from the Urban Land Institute exploring worldwide infrastructure trends. This issue specifically addresses the growing use of ballot measures in financing.
The Local Squeeze, Pew Center on the States
This report takes a look at the double hit that local governments took as a result of economic recession--cuts to state aid and declining property tax revenue. It takes a look at the impact of this financing crunch and some of the options local governments have implemented.
Transportation Systems for Livable Communities, TRB
Transportation Research Board has released a summary of an October 2010 conference "that explored the challenges of incorporating livability into transportation programs and projects."