Taxes and Fees and Debt... oh my!

Wake County's Transit Plan by the Numbers

Pay no attention

The truth is, Wake County has hidden a $5 Billion spending plan behind a referendum to pay for "public transportation systems." It taxes Wake County residents directly for owning a car and again on everything they buy. It taxes citizens indirectly with state funding and federal grants. Bonds saddle future generations with new debt that must to be repaid with interest. A vote for the sales tax increase is a vote for all of this and more!

The "Recommended" plan is one of the most massive spending projects ever proposed for this area. Below are the anticipated sources of funding:

1. Half Cent Sales Tax Increase $ 2,359,238,000
2. $3 Increase Regional Car Registration Fee 62,185,000
3. $7 Wake Car Registration Fee 145,099,000
4. 5% Increase in Car Rental Tax 92,786,000
5. Federal Funds & Grants 882,145,000
6. State Funds 53,390,000
7. Long Term Bond Proceeds 721,749,000
8. Excess Capital Projects Fund (Inflows) & Outflows 789,000
9. Existing Local Revenues for Bus Operations 396,724,000
10. Existing State Support for Bus Operations 25,200,000
11. Farebox Revenue 374,258,000

That's a staggering Five Billion, One Hundred Thirteen Million, Five Hundred Sixty Three Thousand Dollars! Notice the word "Bonds" in item 7 above. A vote for this plan will not just increase taxes and fees - it will incur 721.7 Million Dollars of new debt.

The 5 Billion Dollar Plan proposes enhancements to the current service in two areas:

Bus Service: Three times more buses, bus stop infrastructure, dedicated bus lanes, bus priority traffic signal systems, off board fare collectors, and more.

New Commuter Rail Service from Garner to Durham: Diesel locomotives, passenger cars, railway stations, park & ride lots, track improvements, and more.

This is the plan expenditure summary:

1. BRT1 Capital and Operations, Enhanced Bus Network Operations, Bus Acquisition and Bus Infrastructure $ 2,949,773,000
2. Commuter Rail Capital and Operations 1,582,549,000
3. Future Capital Projects and Operating 459,193,000
4. Fund Balance Allocation2 122,046,000

1. BRT - Bus Rapid Transit
2. Allocation includes debt service

The most alarming aspect of this plan is a $1.8 Billion operating loss over the period. Someone will have to pay for that ...and that someone is you. It may come as future property taxes, or hidden fees, or excessive property revaluations. But one way or another, it's coming if this referendum passes.

Wake County's Recommended Transit Plan is not new. It has been around since 2011. It has been rigorously studied and rejected as a spending plan, not a transit plan, by highly qualified transit planning experts, including Prof. David T. Hartgen, retired Professor of Transportation Studies at UNC Charlotte, and Thomas A. Rubin, Transportation Consultant, Oakland, CA.

An earlier version included an expensive light rail spur from downtown to north Raleigh. That version was defeated by the Wake County Board of Commissioners in 2012. The plan was modified, the light rail removed, and it was voted to be added as a voter referendum on the November 8th ballot in July of this year. The full 36 page copy of the plan is available here.

On November 8th, do the right thing. Vote against the Half Cent Sales Tax increase to not fund Wake County's "Recommended Transit Plan." It's the last item on the ballot.

Wicked witch

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