Why is Pierce Transit trying to raise the sales tax during a recession? If Proposition 1 passes, everyone will pay. We will have some of the highest sales taxes in the state.
This could lead to unintended consequences. Auto dealers could see folks purchase cars elsewhere, businesses could experience sales drops and the financially fragile would pay the same increase as other folks.
Pierce Transit says the proposed increase is only 3 cents on a $10 purchase. This could average $80 or more annually, yet Pierce Transit is holding millions in cash reserves, according to its 2012 budget. Pierce Transit also says the economic downturn has cut ridership. Yet it gave employees a $1.7 million cost-of-living increase in 2010 and are negotiating another increase. Currently, Pierce Transit drivers are paid above-average wages plus personal benefits worth $20,000 per individual.
While Pierce Transit wants to increase our taxes, they don’t want to increase their fares. Shuttle fares (75 cents) haven’t been raised in years. Adults, youth and seniors can all receive deep discounts. Average revenue per rider is only 85 cents, significantly lower than other agencies’.
Also, our transit fleet is about 6.8 years old, yet the 2012 budget contains funds for 81 new vehicles. Commercial planes fly 15 years, school buses go nine years. How about deferring the purchase?
While Pierce Transit has no planned fare increases, it does have a permanent tax increase planned for you and me.