Won't be fooled again vote 'no' on Proposition 110
Fool us once. We all know the sto ry. Call it what you will but many of us believe we were lied to in 2004 when we voted for the RTD Fas-Tracks tax.
Back then it was a predictable group of people who urged us to vote yes on FasTracks. The Boulder City Council. The Boulder County Commissioners. All the county's transportation experts. All the multi-modal transportation nonprofits who get all their funding from our local government and then shill for those same governments. The chambers of commerce. Commercial developers who owned property on the proposed routes. Business leaders who saw opportunities to grow their operations. And what voter could resist their siren call? After all the tax was 'just 4 pennies on every $10'?
Well, slightly more than half of us believed them, the tax passed and you can now ride light rail if you live in Littleton, Denver, Golden, Arvada, Westminster, Aurora, Englewood, Centennial, Lakewood or Wheat Ridge. You can even ride light rail if you don't live here, fly into Denver and have a business appointment in downtown Denver. And although residents of Boulder have and still pay the same tax as every other resident of metro Denver, what did we get?
We got fancy new, re-branded buses that RTD cynically calls Flatiron Flyers. RTD even went further. They call what they gave us instead of the promised rail service 'Bus Rapid Transit' (BRT). That's a lie, too. BRT is supposed to be just like light rail or a subway system with the sole exception that instead of rail or subway cars you ride on buses. At a minimum BRT requires dedicated lanes usually in the center of the roadway to avoid parked, standing or turning cars; off-board fare collection (you know like turnstiles at real rapid transit stations); platform-level boarding (like subway cars, light rail cars or even the buses on the Denver mall); and frequent, predictable service. We got none of that. And why? Because RTD went cheap on us. They spent a grand total of $22 million on the Flatiron Flyer 'BRT' line. I don't know, what's that equate to? Four new light rail cars for Littleton? Talk about adding insult to injury.
In any event, the same old crew is back at it with Proposition 110. All the same groups from 2004 are pushing another new tax. They claim that if we pass Proposition 110 that Colorado will finally be able to resolve most of our glaring transportation problems. And what is their pitch this time? They're using 'It's only 6 cents on every $10.' They must think we are all either really stupid or have group Alzheimer's.
So I'll give you my best argument as to why you should vote no on Proposition 110. Math. The '6 cents on every $10' will result in Boulder County residents paying over $35 million more in sales tax next year alone. Over the course of the tax's 20 year life, the '6 cents on every $10' tax will cost Boulder County residents about $1 billion dollars. I guess the tagline 'it's only $1 billion in new taxes' didn't poll as well as the 6 cents line.
And what do we get in return for our $1 billion? We get $118 million of our own money back from the state for whatever transportation projects we choose. Not a good start for our investment. Proposition 110 also claims we will get bike paths, 'BRT' lanes, and more beloved managed traffic lanes (a euphemism for toll lanes or 'for use only by cars with three people, one dog and a duck' lanes). Mind you some of the projects they have included on their 'what we will get list' have been in the works for a long time and will probably get built with or without passage of Proposition 110.
So what's the alternative? To start with, a yes vote for the 'Fix Our Damn Roads' without new taxes Proposition 109 will get us much needed additional lanes on the Longmont Diagonal. Then if we really want to tax ourselves $1 billion, we can pass our own 'it's only 6 cents on $10' increase to the county sales tax rate, avoid the state middleman, and spend our money on whatever transportation project we think benefits Boulder County. With that kind of money at our disposal we could even build our own light rail line.
For the Camera