BFT votes not to reduce sales tax, what are the $$ facts?
Ben Franklin Transit’s board voted not to cut a sales tax, a move welcomed by union leaders and others. But a previous study shows that this is not really necessary.
BFT will not reduce sales tax
According to KVEW-TV, BFT’s board voted 7-2 for not lowering a sales tax from $0.06 to 0.05%, which would have saved taxpayers money. Part of the reason it was suggested by Commissioner Will McKay and others is that Benton and Franklin County Commissioners recently approved a sales and use tax to help fund a new salvage facility. of mental health. The lowering of one tax would compensate for the other.
According to KVEW-TV, BFT and union officials as well as a group called the Transportation Choices Coalition claimed the cut would have resulted in dozens of layoffs and made BFT ineligible for a Move Ahead Washington grant that will channel millions to various transportation entities in common. over the next decade or two.
However, a previous report shows that BFT has more than enough cash
A report released April 6 by the Washington Policy Center titled “Don’t Buy the Crisis Peddling, Ben Franklin Transit Can Afford the Tax Cut” clearly shows that BFT has a lot more money than it is letting on, and that the decline in traffic does not justify more money.
Mariya Frost, director of the Coles Center for Transportation, writes of BFT:
“At their last board meeting in early March, BFT reported that the agency had seen an incredible 22% growth in sales tax revenue from 2020 to 2021.”
In the article, she notes that some council members have suggested the tax reduction from 0.06 to 0.05 because of this income. However, this proposal was rejected and it will not be presented to voters at the end of the summer or in November.
According to Frost (from his article):
“Since 2010, Ben Franklin Transit’s revenue has increased 47% (adjusted for inflation), while ridership has fallen -64%. Although some of this decline has been exacerbated by the COVID, transit lobbyists like to overlook the fact that ridership had declined in previous years. From 2010 to 2019, BFT ridership was down 38%.”
In addition, BFT has received considerable federal relief funds, between the CARES Act, CSSRA (law) and the US bailout, it totals just over $48 million.
On the one hand, it seems, publicly, that BFT and its supporters claim that jobs have been lost and services have been affected, but the facts and figures in their own records indicate otherwise.
The vote not to reduce the levy was welcomed by the leadership of Teamsters Local No. 839 which represents bus drivers for BFT.