Local Politics

Wake voters to get say on tax for transit

Posted June 6, 2016

— The Wake County Board of Commissioners decided Monday to put a referendum on the November ballot to raise the local sales tax rate by a half-cent to pay for mass transit projects.

The unanimous vote came shortly after the commissioners adopted a $2.3 billion transit plan for the county. The county will be responsible for paying half the cost of the plan – state and federal transit dollars will account for the rest – and officials said a transit tax would raise an estimated $78 million a year.

"More than 1 million people now live in Wake County, and this plan will prepare us for today’s population growth and tomorrow’s traffic congestion," Board of Commissioners Chairman James West said.

Continued population growth in Wake County means that roads that haven't been built yet would be clogged with traffic by 2040 if the county doesn't expand mass transit options, officials said.

The transit plan calls for a 37-mile commuter rail line linking Raleigh and other points in Wake County with Research Triangle Park and Durham, where it would tie in with another proposed rail project between Durham and Chapel Hill. The plan also would expand bus routes across Wake County and increase the frequency of buses operating on some routes.

Several corporate executives spoke in favor of the plan, saying it would help them recruit and retain workers and drive economic development. Some people who already use transit said the bus system needs to be expanded.

"Mobility is the ticket to escaping the clutch of poverty. We wish we didn't have poverty in Wake County, but we are well-endowed," transit supporter Anne Franklin said. "It's also a boost to students and seniors, and I ask you, is there any other program that could deliver such a return?"

But several people spoke against the plan before commissioners approved it, saying it would be an economic drain on area families.


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  • Edward Anderson Jun 7, 2016
    user avatar

    For all of the residents who voted *FOR* the transit plan earlier this year, *THIS* is the result. You went for the promises and now we all have to pay the piper. Thanks a lot. I'm voting no again and will most likely be overridden again.

  • Michael Bawden Jun 7, 2016
    user avatar

    WRAL conveniently left out that we are ALREADY paying $5.00 per year per vehicle for Wake County Transit.
    I am sure people in Wake Forest and Fuquay get a little tired of paying for other "URBAN" areas.

    Where is that $5.00 going?

    DMV fees.
    Residents applying for title and license in: ◾WAKE County

    Must pay an additional fee for funding of the Regional Transportation Authority.

  • Matt Nickeson Jun 7, 2016
    user avatar

    I think that the implementation of public transit in high density urban areas is a great idea. With that being said the triangle is not a high density urban area. I could be persuaded that this is a good idea if someone could present a cogent argument that addresses the age old public transit problem of the first and last mile. In this area it is more like the first and last 5-10 miles. The problem with rail transit in this area is that the amount of infrastructure needed for people to access their everyday needs is far beyond what is being discussed and incredibly expensive. The average commute, would look something like: Walk to a bus stop/drive to a park and ride, take a bus to a train station, take the train to the closest stop to your destination, take a bus to the closest stop to your destination, walk the final leg to your destination. People simply won't do that.

  • Fanny Chmelar Jun 7, 2016
    user avatar

    Seems like in the 25+ years I've lived in Raleigh, there've been monies (and voices) raised for mass transit, yet all we got was a toll road and modest changes to the bus system.
    I was used to public transportation so when I moved here for school, I didn't bring a car. Oops. Went back for it within a month.

  • Shandy Scott Jun 7, 2016
    user avatar

    Please voters do not vote for this waste. North Carolina has the eight highest gas tax in the country. Where is this revenue going???? The 100% Democrats sitting on the Commissioners Board are out of control. The real estate tax rate in Wake County remain the same from 2008-2013 at .534. Then came the Democrats. Over the last three years the rate including the year 2016 will have increased by 17%. The average assessment just increased 5% which is another tax increase. The two billion dollar bond that will be presented in November will increase it another 22%. Let's add these up. This will be in four years and increase in real estate taxes for homeowners of 44%. I challenge anyone to find another area in the country whose real estate taxes have risen 44% in four years.

  • Robert Fotch Jr Jun 6, 2016
    user avatar

    So let me see if i understand this. If the people vote no on the ballet. The officials will say the referendum passed and they will raise your tax. If they vote yes on the ballet, your taxes will be raised. They will raise your taxes regardless.