Saturday, November 19, 2005

County pushing out the VTA with one of its own?

While the SVLG's sales tax poll is private information, a different sales tax poll paid by Santa Clara County is now public information.

A part of the County's survey deals with the public's attitude on major issues. On page 4 of the poll presentation, Education is now a top concerns among the voters. Transportation, used to be the rated as the most important problem back in the late 1990's, has now ranked 3rd behind education and the economy.

The poll asked voters whether to support a general county sales tax either at 1/4 cent or 1/2 cent, which the voter threshold is 50%, over 60% of the respondents said that they support the tax.

Given that the County and the VTA each want its own sales tax increase, the question is who will win and who will lose. Basically, if the County and VTA each have a tax on the ballot in November, most likely both of them will lose. Although these two taxes could be staggered with one in the primary election and the other in the general election the same year, the latter one, which ever that is, would likely to have a higher chance of defeat if the other one passes in the primary.

No wonder why, according to this article, Jim Beall suggested to postpone the VTA tax until 2008.

Since the county proposal is calling for a general tax, it is possible for the county on its own to create a trust fund to support VTA. There's already a precedent with the 1996 Measure A/B tax, which the County Board of Supervisors and the VTA Board hold joint meetings at least once a year to approve transportation projects. On the other hand, the VTA cannot levy a tax that would provide some funds for health care and social services programs.

If the county chooses to support transit (at whatever direction they wanted to) with its general tax, then there is no need for VTA to have its own tax. The City of San Jose (which holds 5 seats on VTA) would not have as much power as they wanted. Perhaps the county could change the course away from the disastrous path since the approval of the 2000 Measure A.


psa188 said...

It's quite disturbing that there's any consideration of a sales tax increase at all. Santa Clara County residents are already heavily taxed and we don't need any more taxes driving up costs and forcing people to leave.

Penguiniator said...

Also, let's not forget that California places a ceiling on how high sales tax may rise. Santa Clara County and VTA are already pushing it to its legal limit with their new proposals.

If they succeed in topping out sales tax, they will have to look for other revenue sources in the future or lobby to have the state's laws changed to allow higher taxes.

How ridiculous do things need to be before real action is taken to correct VTA's mismanagement and blatent disregard for public resources?