BART bond’s household tax will be double what agency said

By Riley McDermid : bizjournals – excerpt

A $3.5 billion bond that BART will be asking voters to approve on the November ballot will ultimately cost the average homeowner twice what the agency has originally projected, a new report says, and would continue to tax voters for almost 50 years.

The beleaguered rapid transit system decided on June 9 to ask voters in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties for a $3.5 billion “mega-bond” in November, a measure that needed a two-third majority to pass and which will up the amount each household pays for the transit system.

But the agency’s initial projections that the bond will cost the average homeowner $35 to $55 in property tax annually for 30 years is in fact going to be roughly twice that and will last for 48 years, writes East Bay Times columnist Daniel Borenstein, who cites BART’s own projections.

The ballot language itself won’t even mention how much each homeowner can expect to pay for the BART bond.

Matthew Burrows, BART’s general counsel, gave the board two reasons for the omission. First, he said, with the ballot language limited to 75 words, there wasn’t room to mention the tax. That’s bogus. Second, the planned ballot wording had tested best in a voter opinion poll. In other words, the political ends justify the means,” Borenstein writes.

“In fact, BART officials never considered ballot language that mentioned the tax, said Kerry Hamill, assistant general manager for external affairs. Nor did they include it in their polling.”

So far, BART appears to have enough support to pass the measure in Alameda and San Francisco, but is not seeing nearly as much support in Contra Costa, where two BART strikes in 2013 left commuters disgruntled.

BART, which has seen an 6 percent increase in ridership every year for the last three years, conducted a poll last summer that found 76 percent of respondents would vote for a $2.5 billion bond measure for the system.

REALATED:
As BART system melts down, budget offers little relief

(more)

It appears there is a cheaper alternative to extending BART. More to come on that soon, but this will get you started.

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