Saturday, July 23, 2011

No More Money To C-Tran

It seems every time we turn around, some government related entity is demanding we in the struggling middle class cough up more of what few dollars we have and give it to them. We are being asked to approve more tax to C-Tran, so they can maintain services we are told, pay a 5% entertainment tax so a marginal Class A baseball team will move to Vancouver and a have a shiny new stadium 70% paid for by taxpayers.

Soon we will be asked for yet another tax increase to fund Loot Rail maintenance and operation once they shove that down our throats, face tolls to cross the I-5 bridge, even before construction begins if they get their way and if Leavitt’s cartel gets their way, pay an additional $20 to register our cars to also fund Columbia River Crossing cronies.

Even though we have been mired in deep recession with double digit unemployment for over 2 years now, it seems there is no stopping of the picking our pockets by the elected ruling class. Feeding our families or keeping our homes is our problem, not theirs, apparently.

But, that sales tax increase to fund C-Tran is one I have long called for to be rejected, mostly to send a message to the ruling class over being lied to and denied the vote we were promised on funding Loot Rail maintenance and operation. While I maintain that notion, seeing the July 12, 2011 C-Tran Financial Update, I question why they need another penny.

View the report here.

While they claim to be under budget on sales tax revenues by some $257,000, they also claim to be over budget on fares by $294,000 and seem to have received a state operating grant of $348,000.

Their “Cash at May 31, 2011” is listed as $45,000,000. After budgeting expenses, including a “Special Needs Grant” of $952,000, they project “Remaining Cash Not Committed at end 2012” as $4,657,000.

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like a struggling entity to me. They seem to be well in the black and nowhere near an austerity budget like you and I are struggling with.

As I have said before and even invited city council members to spend the day outside my home to verify for themselves, I live right on a bus route, a bus stop right outside my kitchen window. All day long I see empty or near empty buses rolling passed my house, occasionally stopping to let off one of the 2 or 3 passengers that might be inside a full-sized bus.

Why are we subsidizing running full sized buses all day long and into the night with little or no passenger use?

Granted, buses on other routes are not running as empty as those on this route are, but still, why do we need to give C-Tran more of our tax dollars to run any empty buses while we wonder where our kids’ next meal might be coming from?

The report also shows it cost an average of a little over $100 to operate the buses. How much higher is the actual cost to run full-size buses with few if any passengers paying fares?

I once jokingly said to Battle Ground city council member and C-Tran board member Bill Ganley that they could sell off many buses, lease a fleet of used Prius’ and still not fill those up on the route running by my house.

Given many of the questions raised recently about CRC and C-Tran, deeply embroiled with CRC, I cannot see any reason we should cough up another dime to this bus venture at this time.

If they need to trim service or employee benefits, or better yet reorganize to be a more efficient transportation entity, then let them do that before asking for another dime.

From Tim Leavitt’s cartel council to Steve Stuart and Marc Boldt on the county commission, it’s time they actually do the job they were elected to do.

It’s easy to be a leader during good times when money flows easily.

But, during lean times as we remain locked into, it take real leaders to stand up and do what is really needed, instead of further picking the pockets of the struggling middle class taxpayer.

I'm voting NO on C-Tran's sales tax increase.

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