Thursday, February 26, 2009

CATS sales tax tumbles in December

The Charlotte Area Transit System said Wednesday night that its half-cent sales tax fell a whopping 15 percent in December 2008 compared with the same month a year earlier. For the entire year, the sales tax was down 8.5 percent.

The dismal December caused CATS to revise again its 10-year projection for the sales tax, which drives the transit system's budget. CATS had thought the tax would only decline by 6 percent in fiscal year 2009, but it now projects a 8 percent drop for the year.

That means CATS believes the sales tax will generate $269 million less over the next decade than originally projected in 2006. Last month, CATS projected the loss would be $252 million.

It's important to remember these are only projections. If the Charlotte economy rebounds, CATS probably won't lose $269 million. And if the local economy regains the swagger of the years 2003-2006, the losses of the last two years could be erased.

The transit system does have some good news, however.

* CATS believes Congress will appropriate $20.5 million for engineering work for the northeast corridor. The entire cost of designing the line will be about $30 million.

* CATS chief executive Keith Parker said the Federal Transit Administration has announced it will change how it evaluates commuter rail lines. That might increase the chance for the north corridor to receive federal money.

* CATS will receive $20.5 million in stimulus money. Parker said he'll probably spend that money upgrading a bus maintenance facility and building park-and-ride lots.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Try letting the users pay instead of the long-suffering taxpayers who are ready for a tea party and revolt!

Anonymous said...

It's been a very cold winter. Who wants to stand on a platform and wait for a train or bus when they can work from home or drive? That combined with all the layoffs... Things are going to get worse for CATS before they get better. Alot worse!

Anonymous said...

if you want transit users to pay the full price of transit, why not make every automobile, truck, and train pay the FULL share of their transit mode. Goods traveling by truck and rail would SKYROCKET and it would become greatly unfeasible for many people in the Charlotte area to use their automobile except for very short trips. Not a 10+ mile commute.

Transit is a necessity and there are thousands of studies that show the fiscal, social, health, and environmental benefits of transit versus the automobile.

Amoore said...

You Know what Charlotte need to realize if they want to become truly a big city they will need to give up some of those old southern ways. You can not still pay low wages across the board and have big City deficits. If they stop letting companies pay Low Wages they would have more revenue..

Anonymous said...

12:41:

Perhaps you've forgotten about:

Gasoline TAX
Diesel TAX (higher than gasoline tax in NC)
Registration TAX
Vehicle sales TAX
Tire excise TAX
Property TAX

You also have forgotten that ROADS are a CONSTITUTIONALLY ENUMERATED FUNCTION OF GOVERNMENT (Article I Section 8).

Draining the taxpayer dry to subsidize transit is no different from draining the taxpayer dry to bailout Kenny Boy Lewis.

Anonymous said...

anon 12:41- We do pay the cost of driving. It is called personal property taxes, registration fees, road use tax, license fees, fuel taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, etc. Then, we still have to pay for the scam rail system. Of which, ZERO studies have proven does anything to reduce congestion or pollution. In fact, some researchers theorize that it actually increases both of the above by impeding the flow of vehicle traffic on roads as the roads are closed to allow the trains to pass.

Kratz said...

NO, drivers, you DO NOT pay anywhere CLOSE to your whole cost of driving, not even on the Federal level (not to mention on the state level in NC, where 100s of millions of dollars are transfered annually from the state's General Fund TO the state Highway fund to SUBSIDIZE your car and roads...

HUGE TAXPAYER BAILOUT OF HIGHWAY FUND

Los Angeles Times
9 September 2008

Taxpayer will bail out motorists to keep the highway trust fund solvent. The administration had initially proposed to use transit funds and veto using general funds, but with the fund scheduled to go bust in Oct., they relented.

"With the nation's highway fund running out of money faster than expected, the Bush administration on Friday (9/05) pulled a political U-turn and urged Congress to approve an $8 billion rescue plan that the White House had previously opposed.

To address the shortfall, the House of Representatives earlier this summer overwhelmingly voted to transfer money from the government's general fund to bail out the highway account.

"At current spending rates, we will start the new fiscal year on Oct. 1 with a zero balance in the trust fund and will continue to spend more than we take in," (Secretary of Transportation Mary) Peters said.

...DO YOUR RESEARCH rather than assuming you know what you are talking about because it fits your whinning.

Anonymous said...

Kratz- You are incorrect. Please verify your statements before spouting off. It is a known fact that in NC, they have been transferring highway funds for years, to the general fund. Trust but verify...

Anonymous said...

70% want the train. To all who cannot get over that fact, move to the boonies. Drive your tractors to your little towns and eat Moon Pies.

Rick said...

70% want the train. To all who cannot get over that fact, move to the boonies.

We'll see about that.

During the transit tax debate, the pro-transit crowd repeatedly said this wasn't about trains, but about buses. If the tax was repealed, then the sky would fall, old people would become shut-ins, the sick would die, and charlotte would shut down.

The pro-repeal side said that bus users would suffer if the tax was actually kept with the same plan because as soon as there was any financial dificulty with the system all of the burden would fall on the bus system.

Who turned out to be right?

Out of $4 million in cuts only $100k affected rail. The bulk of the rest fell on bus riders.

When CATS comes asking for more tax money - another half cent, or quarter cent, higher property taxes, or bonds that will cripple the county's credit rating - don't be so sure that the number will still be 70%.

People now know they were lied to last time. They know the costs and revenues can not be trusted. They know CATS will always be back for more.

50% may be a little tougher next time.

Then again, we could get some Barack Obama Bucks (BOBs) and have someone else pay for it for us. Isn't that the New American Way?

Anonymous said...

Transit is a necessity and there are thousands of studies that show the fiscal, social, health, and environmental benefits of transit versus the automobile.

Name one, or are you referring to the bogus study UNCC made up using "research" from a train buff not an expert to make up a phony study? No thanks, pay your full toll and we'll see what happens, trains only work with massive tax subsidies.

I'll stick to experts like David Hartgen, a grown up who gets it. All aboard.

Anonymous said...

David Hartgen is shunned by the entire planning department at UNCC and most transportation planners because he makes his money having a dissenting opinion that has no basis in reality. He has an opinion - OPINION. There is no factual information to much of what he says, so you telling me that you believe him only tells me you believe his opinons and have not gone out to read the rest of the research that says otherwise.

http://planetizen.com - there's one planning website that has transportation stories mixed in that talk about how transit is a NECESSITY for the country. Roads are so expensive and providing large scale facilities for drivers is NOT cost effective.

Rick said...

If Dr Hartgen is such a kook, why does he have a presentation prominently displayed on the FTA/NTB website?

Hartgen NTB Report

Anonymous said...

Privatize Cats!!!

Anonymous said...

Have Jennifer Roberts and Vilma Leak pick up the shortfall with their own money.

Anonymous said...

dump the whole system into the whitewater hole and fill it in.

Anonymous said...

Gas guzzling cars fund petrol dictators and terrorists. Either you are with transit or you're with the terrorists. I bet that big SUV costs about 3 soldiers per fill up.