Monday, June 12, 2006

Sales tax extortion scheme

VTA remains defiant despite the failure of Measure A. This Thursday, the VTA board will decide whether to adopt a spending plan that assumes a new 1/4 cent sales tax or equivalent.

Since the BART extension has been withdrawn from the federal new-starts process last December, the failure of Measure A last week indicates that the BART project will likely to remain off the new-starts process to avoid the guaranteed rejection from the federal government. However, it also allows VTA to spend as much as it wants on studies and engineering efforts that may not translate into completion of the project.

The BART extension has many similarities to the Bay Bridge East Span fiasco, where politicians shut-off discussion about cost effective alternatives early in the process in favor of a costly design that does not provide any functional improvements. Last year, when the construction bid for the single tower structure came out much higher than originally estimated, the politicians determined that it was too late to redesign the bridge and provide significant cost savings. Instead, without having to go to the voters, politicians approved a bailout package that will increase the bridge tolls effective next year.

It appears that Guardino and Gonzales are going through the same route by spending more local tax dollars on studies and design until when choosing another alternative would be seen as unfavorable. However, Guardino and Gonzales cannot raise sales taxes without the approval of voters.

VTA is on the path to extort taxpayers' money, by spending more money on things that cannot happen until voters approve another tax increase. VTA does not have to be on this path if it chooses to pursue real studies and live within its means.

1 comment:

Norman said...

At about the same time that Burns came "down" to VTA from the Muni, yet another Deputy-without-a-gun was hired by the VTA, who came from BART. These both sure sound like demotions to me, at least in the context of a career path.

Mr. Burns would clearly have closer ties to BART than even Cipolla would have had. Therefore, while I can't prove a thing, it sure looks interesting that these two came to VTA at about the same time. But why come down the career ladder, instead of going up? The only thing I can think of is the promise of a reward if certain goal(s) are accomplished... For Burns, maybe the head of the MTC?

Who knows...