Why support tax hike for STA?
Question: Here we go again. This morning's paper states that the STA has more money than they did last month and now can maybe not cut as much as planned. If this keeps up, no one will believe anything you or the STA says. Why is so tough to figure out exactly how much money is available? They should know what the sources are and how much comes from each ahouldn't they?
If you get your way and a .3% sales tax gets on the ballot and is passed, won't the STA have several million more than they need? -- Wayne Lythgoe, Colbert
Answer: Like the rest of the public, our editorial board keeps an eye on developments such as these and comments accordingly. Up to this point, our editorial position on STA and its budget difficulties has been essentially as follows: STA has made greatly needed improvements in its management structure and approach. But it needs to go further by adding private-sector board members who would bring business expertise not reflectected in the current board comprised entirely of elected officials. Such a change, however, would require legislative action, something that can't be accomplished quickly.
In the meantime, public transportation is one of those elements that makes a community whole -- in the eyes of the residents as well as the eyes of businesses that may be thinking of expanding here. We would do ourselves great harm to allow public transit to be slashed to such insufficient levels. As of right now (Tuesday morning) the editorial board has not reviewed the latest developments. However, it's significant to note that the additional funding is due in part to sales tax receipts coming in at higher levels than had been forecast. Forecasts can err in both directions, of course, so we don't know what might happen next year. It's also significant that even with the revised assessment, the result would still be a 38 percent reduction in service. That's down from an estimated 50 percent, but it's still a big impact. If STA puts another sales tax proposal on the ballot, as we have supported, it still would have to be defended to the voters who make the final decision. -- Doug Floyd, editorial page editor