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Proposed bill would help fund regional transit projects

Posted February 11, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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A proposed bill introduced in the General Assembly Wednesday would allow local governments in high-population areas input in increasing sales taxes to help pay for regional transit plans.

The bill would allow county commissioners in Wake, Durham, Orange and Cumberland counties, as well as those that comprise the Triad, to hold a referendum to increase sales tax a half-cent.

Traffic, transit Tax increase for Triangle transit?

Rural counties bordering those areas would have the option for a quarter-cent sales tax increase.

In the Triangle, for example, it would be the first step in financing a proposed multibillion-dollar regional plan that would bring a combination of buses, rail systems and circulators to help meet the area's growing transportation needs.

A House version of the bill is sponsored by Rep. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg, and a Senate version is sponsored by Sen. Richard Stevens. Both are members of the 21st Century Transportation Committee, which looks at how to fund such projects in the state.

A similar bill was passed for the Charlotte area, which Carney says, has been a success. The Queen City has what many consider a successful mass transit model.

"It's a planning toolbox for local governments to plan beyond roads," she said. "The citizenry gets to have their input on how they want to grow their region, as far as transportation needs and transit needs."

Elected officials, like Wake County Commissioner Joe Bryan, who support the bill, however, say its introduction is bad timing, given the economy's downturn.

“When I’m looking at potentially closing libraries, having ambulances not respond quickly, sheriff’s deputies not on patrol as much – frankly, it doesn’t rise up to the highest priority to be having an additional income source and taxing people when tens of thousands of people are losing their jobs in Wake County, alone," Bryan said.

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  • algocode Feb 18, 2009

    For the records, Charlotte had a Republican mayor in 1998 when a transit-oriented plan was approved with a sales tax that was also supported by the population through referendum. This shouldn't be an ideological issue and when the President and the Vice-President were repetitively saying that the Recovery and Reinvestment Plan should put us on the path of sustainable growth, they were not only saying something that is expected by global financial markets, who will have the last say on what we can borrow or print, but also reminding us that back when the economy was growing, for every inch the Dow Jones would gain, oil prices would gain two inches.

    When I find myself in the wrong shopping mall, at the wrong time, being assaulted by a stampede of mad shoppers, I think of sales taxes as a very good thing.

  • town guy Feb 12, 2009

    Fun - I have issues with the City-funded restaurant downtown too. But it seems to me that transportation issues should be within the realm of public services You mentioned roads and bridges yourself, but "transportation" is a lot more than that.

  • 68_polara Feb 12, 2009

    Seeing how Durham has never seen a tax increase it hasn't liked this will cost us in Durham.

  • beachboater Feb 12, 2009

    Heck yes!! we need to raise the sales tax. But why stop at 1/2 or 1/4, go for the gusto, make it 2 or 3 %. People aren't spending money these days anyway. They are afraid to let go of what little cash they have.

    Go for general assembly. Do what you do best. Ram it to the taxpayers. Heck, we're dumb enough to keep sending you back to Raleigh, give us out due.

  • Fun Feb 12, 2009

    Town Guy..Im for WalMart Government. Lowest cost producer of basic essential services--Water,sewer,garbage,police,fire,roads and bridge. Minimal involvement everything else. No government funded RESTAURANTS!! No government competing with private sector.

  • town guy Feb 12, 2009

    Why should public transportation pay for itself? Cities provide all sorts of services that aren't expected to be self supporting - the police and fire departments, for example. These are all services that are expected in a modern city.
    Or do you want make the police deparment "pay for itself" too?

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Feb 12, 2009

    What a waste. Allowing the liberals in government to once again raise taxes to fund a mass transit system that most of the population won't use instead of putting the money into highway infrastructure that most of the population will use.

  • whatelseisnew Feb 12, 2009

    The people that use the mass transit should be the ones that pay for it. Raise the fares so that you can pay for the system itself and to expand it. folks that are so hep up about needing this should pay for it. It is also time to relieve the burden on vehicles. Remove all vehicle taxes and reduce the gas tax. Put all sales tax collected from the vehicle industry into highway infrastructure. Stop using that money to pay for other stuff.

  • Fun Feb 12, 2009

    Where are the synchronized stop lights we voted for in the bond issue? It passed and I see nothing being done with the money-- at least not where the "people voted for the money to spent"

  • CestLaVie Feb 12, 2009

    Ripcord: I AGREE.

    It's like the Raleigh convention center that we now see, which was previously vetoed to be built!! Or the lottery, which had been voted down in the past.

    They just keep trying to ram things through & eventually succeed, it seems. A shame, isn't it??

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