That conversation was heard by Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt who wanted to respond to the interview and offer some of his thoughts on the upcoming tax vote, tolling, and the Tolling Advisory Committee.
Over the next three days I'll highlight Leavitt's answers. They have not been edited for content. See them after the jump.
CRC LRT Operations & Maintenance.
This November, there will be an ask of the voters within the CTRAN service area to increase sales tax of 1 penny on a 10 dollar retail purchase. If approved, the revenues generated will be utilized to pay for:
a) The CRC LRT [LIGHT RAIL] annual operations and maintenance cost, and
b) The proposed bus rapid transit improvement (both local matching capital -- about 30% of the capital cost, and the annual operations and maintenance).
The CTRAN service area -- or those that will vote on this ballot measure --- include all households within the limits of the City of Vancouver and within the Vancouver Urban Growth Boundary (this comprises some 65% of the CTRAN service hours for fixed bus routes), and all households within the city limits of every other city in Clark County.
If not approved by the voters, then, obviously, there will not be a sales tax increase to cover the costs of both projects. However, if the voters do not approve of sales tax as a funding mechanism for either project (as I suspect they will), the projects do not go away.
This ballot measure is in no means intended to be a referendum on either project, or the CRC for that matter. You'll hear politicians and candidates opine that this is the case, and no doubt some in our community will be persuaded as such and vote accordingly (yes or no), but the fact is that this measure is not planned/not intended/not perceived by honest folks to be a referendum. Those that suggest otherwise are merely misguiding our public and such statements are entirely disingenuous and, my opinion....insulting to the intelligence of our citizens.I could go on with arguments about the non-sense of having a referendum vote on a project of national significance....but that's another conversation for another day.
Despite the Mayor's characterizations and protestations, it's clear that this upcoming vote will be one for or against light rail itself. We know this after observing how government light rail supporters have done their utmost to limit voter input throughout the country. Clark County voters know their "No" on light rail vote in the 90's is being dismissed as a one-off--the product of more parochial times. This is their chance to take a second stand on the issue. This is the only other vote they'll likely will get without being gaveled down.
The cost, the maintenance, the inconvenience, the lies about ridership and fare box returns are just part of the reason why voters--taxpayers--are not bamboozled by the light rail hype. Vancouver citizens--indeed all of Clark County--know the stakes are even higher, however. By allowing a failing agency--Tri Met-- and Portland's regional government Metro into their county to dictate policy, voters know they'll be signing a blank check and ceding their local decision making to another state. That is madness.
This is a proxy vote. There is no other way to interpret it. Obviously the Mayor has a different opinion.
Tomorrow: Mayor Tim Leavitt discusses tolling.