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Election 2012: Tennessee, Texas communities eye transit votes
By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

Transportation funding is a topic addressed each year by voters around the country. Among the issues that could be decided by voters this fall in communities in Tennessee and Texas are taxes to benefit transit.

In Tennessee, voters in Memphis will decide on a referendum for a 1-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase to benefit transit. If approved, the tax on all gas sales within city limits is expected to raise between $3 million to $6 million annually for the Memphis Area Transit Authority.

Advocates say that the additional revenue would allow them to expand service hours and amenities on the most critical commuter and high frequency routes. They also note that passage of the referendum would benefit all road users because transit helps reduce congestion and pollution.

Critics say they are concerned about putting more money into a transit program that they say is losing riders.

Houston area voters will cast ballots to determine whether to continue for another 12 years the diversion of a portion of the area transit authority’s 1 percent sales tax revenue to local governments.

Currently, as much as 25 percent of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s sales tax revenues are used for street improvements and related work in Houston and 14 other jurisdictions around Harris County.

The diversion is slated to end in two years. The referendum would continue the transfer from October 2014 to January 2026.

For more 2012 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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