One of the items to be considered by the Metro Board of Directors in this month’s round of meetings: whether to begin the development process for a new ballot measure in November 2016 to pay for transportation projects. Nov. 2016 will likely be a big election with voters deciding the successor to President Barack Obama.
Extremely important: This IS NOT the Board deciding to go to the ballot with anything. Rather, this is Metro staff asking the Board to begin the process of developing a ballot measure which would be either an extension of Measure R or a new sales tax.
As the above Metro staff report says, the Metro Board eventually must decide which to pursue and whether to actually take a ballot measure to voters. Those decisions will come at a later date.
Measure R was approved by voters in 2008 and raised the sales tax by a half-cent for 30 years to pay for a plethora of transportation projects (here’s the list). The tax expires on June 30, 2039.
Existing tax versus new tax? Both have their pros and cons. Persuading voters to extend an existing tax that they are already paying is presumably easier than selling them on paying a new tax. On the other hand, a new tax may also widen the field of projects that could receive funding, attracting support from more people. As you’ll see, the staff report contains some recent polling results on that topic.
Of course, the ballot measure issue has been on everyone’s radar since Nov. 2012, when Measure J — an extension of Measure R — received 66.1 percent approval from county voters but lost because it failed to reach the 66.67 percent threshold. The Board has continued to talk about ways to accelerate Measure R projects. Any acceleration plan almost certainly would would require new tax revenues to supply the local funding that would presumably be matched with federal funding and loans.