Monday, August 17, 2015

Trimet board of sock puppets ready to ignore public concerns as usual

 Any experienced Trimet watcher knows that these tax increases are automatic. Public testimony is taken because they have to listen to it. The Trimet  was created specifically to avoid public accountability

TriMet is poised to increase its payroll tax to fund expanded transit service within a month — despite opposition from some that pay it in the business community.

The regional transit agency's staff has proposed increasing the payroll tax 1/10th of 1 percent over 10 years. All members of the Board of Directors who attended the first hearing on the proposed increase spoke in favor of it last Wednesday. (of course) The board is scheduled to vote on the increase at its Sept. 16 meeting.
"No one like to see increased fees but everyone want to see improved service," said director Craig Prosser,(insider crony) the retired city manager of Tigard, who called the increase necessary.
Representatives of the Portland Business Alliance and the Westside Economic Alliance testified that paying the increase would be a burden for many businesses, however.
Marion Haynes, the PBA's vice president of government affairs and economic development, noted TriMet had approved a similar increase in 2004 that only ended in 2014. She said the cumulative effect would be a 37 percent increase over a little more than 20 years.
"That's a large increases," Haynes said. "We've heard from some businesses who've calculated the increase, and they think it's a doozie."
Pam Treece, the WEA's executive director, agreed.
"The increase is high and will be difficult for many businesses," she said.
Both Haynes and Treece testified their organizations support the goal of the increase, however, which is to fund Service Enhancement Plans that TriMet has developed to meeting the growing transit needs in different parts of its service region.
The increase was supported by six witnesses selected by TriMet to testify at the hearing, however. They included: Tom Kelly, president of Neil Kelly Remodeling  and chair of the Portland Development Commission; Matt Cato, director of the Office of Respect Life, Justice and Peace in the Archdiocese of Portland; Forest Grove Mayor Peter Truax; and Steve De Angelo, owner of De Angelo's Catering & Events. They all testified enhanced transit was necessary to reduce congestion, serve the needs of the poor, and fight climate change.
"Congestion is terrible and its effecting every business and neighborhood," said Kelly, adding that his company can no longer guarantee when its workers will arrive at their job sites with certainly.
The payroll tax is TriMet's largest source of operating revenue, accounting for about 60 precent on an annual basis. It is authorized by the Oregon Legislature, which had previously given TriMet approval to increase it when the economy was in good condition. A report prepared by the ECONorthwest consulting firm reviewed at the meeting said the Portland area economy has recovered from the Great Recession.
The PBA and WEA also asked the board to stop the increases after five years and review whether they were bringing in more revenue than projected. The board did not agree to what it called a "hard stop" but promised it would review collection after five years anyway.(usual bullshit)
At the hearing, TriMet said the median increase is only $8 in the first year and $82 at the end of the 10 years. But PBA President and CEO Sandra McDonough, says the increase on larger businesses is much more.
“We are hearing from large employers who are projecting major six-figure boosts in their payroll tax after the full 10-year increase is implemented. We support TriMet’s proposal to increase transit service, especially to employment centers, and are working with them on this proposal. But it is important to acknowledge that this is a significant increase,” says McDonough.
The ordinance being consider by the board can be read here. 

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