Thursday, April 03, 2008

VTA to restart process for 2000 Measure A expediture plan

Being in a critical election year, VTA is restarting the 2000 Measure A expediture plan process. The last time VTA approved a 2000 Measure A expediture plan was in June 2006, days after the defeat of 2006 Measure A sales tax. Because that plan assumes a new 1/4 cent sales tax that doesn't exist, it is nothing but a sales tax extortion scheme.

VTA has no choice but to revisit the expediture plan. Instead of performing real evaluations of projects and advocating for real changes to its transportation plan, VTA once again plans to shift spending priorities, adjust tax revenue projections, and push for sales tax increases. This year, VTA is focusing especially on preserving the three most wasteful 2000 Measure A projects: BART extension, light rail extension from Alum Rock to Eastridge, and double tracking of Caltrain south of San Jose.

Besides appeasing the downtown delusionals, VTA also has a vested interest to turn these wasteful projects into fruition. Like our military industrial complex, VTA hires many engineers and consultants that make millions of dollars on conducting studies and plans. For years, VTA argued that planning process for these projects must continue because VTA had a great engineering staff and didn't want to lay them off. Meanwhile, VTA had no problems reducing service and laying off bus drivers and mechanics.

Unlike the last review, VTA this time plans to develop multiple scenarios that include no new taxes, a new 1/8 cent sales tax, and a new 1/4 cent sales tax. However, VTA proposes not to consider projects other than those listed on the 2000 Measure A. Without a comprehensive review and a call for new projects, what VTA is proposing is just another way to sell new taxes for ill conceived projects (example: If you don't increase the sales tax by XX, then BART won't be built, and there's no alternative except BART). Legally, there's no mandate for VTA to exclude new projects, especially if VTA is planning to place a new sales tax on the ballot. Even projects like Caltrain Metro East, which every agency refuses to study based on political grounds, is actually eligible for funding under the 2000 Measure A because it is an ACE upgrade, a project specifically listed in the 2000 Measure A.

At tonight's meeting, the staff will introduce the board on the planning process. Later this month, the board will begin discussion. The timetable calls for formal adoption of the expediture plan in September.

No comments: