Carolina, Colorado communities eye transit votes

| Monday, August 15, 2011

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 North Carolina and in Colorado are tax increases to benefit transit.

In North Carolina, county commissioners in Durham County recently decided to include a referendum on a half-cent local option sales tax for public transit. Specifically, it would benefit a combination of new bus and rail lines during the next 15 years.

The tax would be applied to goods – except housing, food, medicine and fuel.

If approved, commissioners agreed to delay implementation of the tax to allow voters in neighboring counties the opportunity to decide whether to boost transit funding. The Nov. 8 ballots in neighboring Wake and Orange counties will not include the transit referendum.

Durham’s anticipated partners want more time to finish route and system planning before they ask voters to decide on new taxes during next year’s presidential election.

The Durham tax is estimated to raise $18.4 million annually to support transit work. State and federal funds would also be sought to supplement work on the projects.

In Colorado, voters in the town of Avon could decide on a combination of sales and lodging tax increases for transit.

The 0.40 percent sales tax increase being considered would combine with a 1 percent lodging tax to expand service within the town, restore evening bus service and expand routes. Also being considered is a one-quarter percent sales tax for the transit system.

The town council is expected to decide whether to include any tax questions on the fall ballot during a meeting scheduled for Aug. 23.

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