To the editor:
After eight years of operation, two weeks before a vote about increasing the local sales tax, the city announces agreement with KU about bus systems. But wait! It's not an agreement or a merger. It's a "letter of intent" about "coordination of routes." Painfully absent in the announcement was how much the T will cost. Will coordinated routes cost less? Not!
The city eliminated all public transit funds, but they kept virtually all the money to make it appear they didn't raise property taxes. Residents will still pay the $1.25 million in property taxes; it will just go to something other than public transportation.
Next, the city proposed $3.25 million in additional sales tax for public transit. Nonresidents account for 30 percent of sales tax, so Lawrence residents will pay $2.25 million of the new tax, almost twice what they paid, and continue to pay, in property tax. Including state and federal funds, the annual public transit budget climbs from $3.5 million to $5.3 million.
At current ridership, the cost per ride will be $25 for T-Lift and $9.91 for the T. Don't be fooled by the "increase" in ridership by letting KU students ride the T for free. Actual T ridership declined by almost 16 percent in 2007 and 2008.
No planning. No information. No effort to reduce cost. A $3.25 million tax increase. Don't reward poor government performance. Vote "no" on Questions 2 and 3 and require the city to restore previous funding to pay for the T-Lift.