County questions on transportation issues answered by voters

| 11/21/2008

Voters throughout the United States cast ballots earlier this month on a wide array of topics. Land Line recently took a look at several transportation-related initiatives on countywide ballots across the country that are of particular interest to truckers. Here is a sampling of what was found.

With a tally of 49.53 percent in favor and 50.47 percent opposed, voters in Broward County, FL, narrowly defeated Question 1 on the ballot asking whether there should be a Metropolitan Transit Authority. Although the authority would have served in an advisory capacity only, it would have made recommendations to the County Commission about public transit operations.

Results were split on two transportation questions on the ballot in Washoe County, NV, which were described as a vital first step to begin addressing a funding shortfall of about $6 billion. Question 2 on the countywide ballot asked voters whether to increase the general sales tax by one-eighth of 1 percent.

Voters soundly rejected the effort by a margin of 64 percent opposed to only 36 percent in favor. The sales tax question would have raised an estimated $280 million to support existing mass transit.

Question 5 asked voters in the county whether to authorize the Washoe County Board of Commissioners to seek state legislation to adjust gasoline and diesel taxes to help offset a shortfall for street repairs, highway and transit systems. It passed by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin.

It is estimated that the measure would increase the tax paid in the county on a gallon of gasoline by 2 cents per gallon. The county tax paid on a gallon of diesel would increase about 2.4 cents.

A countywide ballot question in South Carolina won approval to authorize a special local option sales tax. Nearly 57 percent of voters in Berkeley County approved a penny sales tax referendum that includes funding for county roads. It also makes the area eligible for matching state and federal funds.

Increasing the sales tax from 7 percent to 8 percent is expected to generate about $150 million for road work over seven years.

In Milwaukee County, WI, 51 percent of voters supported an advisory referendum that asked whether the county’s sales tax should be increased by 1 percent to pay for such things as transit. It would generate an estimated $130 million a year with nearly half going for parks, recreation and transit. The state Legislature must now approve it.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor