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St. Louis County voters should reject Proposition A, a 100% increase in revenue from county taxpayers. An agency that isnít accountable to the public, and has an unmatched record for wasting tax dollars, should not be given such a huge increase.
If approved, county tax dollars for Metro would go from about $80 million to about $160 million a year. This would be the third sales tax for Metro and the third sales tax increase in three years in St. Louis County.
This comes at a time when many families are already struggling to make ends meet. Food pantries in the area canít keep up with the demand while home foreclosures have set records.
Itís being claimed thereís a big deficit at Metro but itís a contrived one. Metro has been receiving record amounts of sales tax revenue from St. Louis County. But in 2008 the county cut funding by $8.5 million dollars. The money was in the budget but was diverted. It was then claimed there was a crisis.
Following the defeat of the tax hike in 2008, cuts in service were made, though they didnít have to be. They are only part of the effort to scare voters into passing a big tax hike.
The campaign for the Metro tax has been hugely deceptive. In one television ad it says 100,000 people use transit getting to work. According to the Census Bureau, less than 3% of workers in the area use public transit - only 28,000 in St. Louis and St. Louis County combined. This is after 15 years of MetroLink at a cost of billions of dollars.
The continuing problem with Metro is that is functions beyond public control with little regard for transit riders or taxpayers. For example, the state audit found the Cross County MetroLink extension will cost taxpayers a total of $1.1 billion. The cost overrun was $293 million Ė enough to buy nearly 1000 buses.
We all want good public transit in the St. Louis area. But giving a 100% increase to Metro Ė with no accountability for how the funds are spent Ė is not the way to go about it. A ďnoĒ vote on Proposition A is the responsible choice for St. Louis County voters.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Tom Sullivan is the spokesman for the Public Transit Accountability Project, which advocates the main priority for Metro should be meeting the needs of those dependent on public transit. He lives in University City and has been involved in public policy issues for many years.