Public transit organization seeks funds
Parcel taxation to be increased $4 for 10 years
Published: Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Updated: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 15:10
Come Tuesday, East Bay voters will choose to vote "yes" or "no" on Measure VV, which would increase the existing parcel tax in the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District by $4 per parcel per month, for 10 years.
In November 2004, voters approved Measure BB to extend the existing $2 a month parcel tax in support of AC Transit to 2015 and increase it to $4 per month for that period. The annual cost since July 1, 2005 has thus been $48 a year for property owners, according to smartvoter.org.
AC Transit faces a $20 million budget shortfall and with the price of fuel having increased by more than 55 percent in the four years, the district is considering a fare increase to meet the shortfall.
The district has the authority to levy special taxes upon approval by two-thirds aof the votes cast. If approved, a special tax will be imposed annually for 10 years at the rate of $96 on each taxable parcel beginning July 1, 2009, continuing until 2019. Upon failure, the district will not be authorized to extend and increase the levy of the special tax and the levy would remain $48 on each taxable parcel through 2013.
Additionally, the measure would include an independent oversight committee and all money is to stay local. The annual cost will be the same dollar amount for every property owner.
Supporters say that AC Transit bus service benefits the community by providing transportation for those who cannot afford the rising cost of gas and will enable seniors, children and people with disabilities that cannot drive to remain independent and be able to transport themselves.
"Everyone benefits from the bus service; public transit is a public good," Director of the Transportation and Housing Urban Habitat Bob Allen said.
By passing the measure, supporters say it will help reduce traffic by getting cars off the road and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
One concern of opponents is where their tax money will go.
Allen, however, said the money will be directed at operating issues and not capital improvements.
"Everyone in the community needs to contribute. We all pay for things we don't use, but public transportation is something we all benefit from," he said.
On the opposite end, opponents say it is unfair to tax each property owner the same dollar amount and that massive, noisy buses that will be funded to be put on the road will only clog streets.
"I'm a biker and bus rider and this measure will make it very difficult to ride the bus because they are cutting back on the local buses on this end," Berkeley resident Merrilie Mitchell said. "When you come north on (Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley) the roads are already small. These buses will take out lanes and take out parking."
According to smartvoter.org, other arguments opponents offer are that AC Transit has squandered its money on diesel buses from Belgium when clean-air American buses could have been reimbursed 80 percent and that AC Transit could benefit financially by providing discounted passes.
"I oppose this tax because what they plan to do with the money will not help the very people they say they're trying to help," Mitchell said.
Contact Regina Sarnicola at email@example.com.