NO on the Metro tax (Proposition A)

Tom Sullivan

For members of the Washington University community, the only responsible choice on the Metro tax increase is to vote “no.” The tax will be on the April 6 ballot in St. Louis County as Proposition A. It would be the third sales tax increase for Metro and would be a 100 percent increase in revenue from county taxpayers—from about $80 million to about $160 million a year.

It would also be the third sales tax increase in St. Louis County in three years. For families struggling to make ends meet in tough economic times, it would only add to their hardship. Low-income families can pay five to six times more of their income, on a percentage basis, than those in higher brackets.

The millionaires and high-income people promoting the tax might find this hard to understand. This would include Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton, who was reported to be earning more than a $1 million annually in recent years from both his University salary and outside director’s fees.

Metro’s claimed financial crisis is completely contrived. It has lost some funding but also gained some. The increased revenue just from raising fares is about $9 million a year. Metro also receives funding from both the state and federal governments.

The transit agency is using the well-worn “doomsday scenario” in order to scare voters—unless you vote for this tax, people won’t be able to get to work and senior citizens and the disabled will be left stranded. In 2008, just before the vote on the Metro tax, County Executive Charlie Dooley had county government reduce Metro’s funding by $8.5 million. The funding was in the budget but was diverted. An even bigger crisis was then claimed.

What is absolutely shameless is Chancellor Mark Wrighton’s involvement in the hugely deceptive and misleading campaign to pass the Metro tax. He is repeating the threats that Metro has constantly made. It does not seem to bother him that Metro is providing multi-million dollar subsidies to the University while cutting back on service to those needing it the most.

In addition to the MetroLink system that connect the University’s various campuses, Metro has two bus routes that cater to the University and also provides a shuttle service that runs seven days a week from morning to night. About 98 percent of the shuttle riders use Wash. U. passes. The reason Metro is so generous to the University is that it allows the transit agency to inflate ridership numbers.

To members of the Washington University community: do the right thing and vote “no” on Proposition A on Tuesday.

Tom is the spokesman for the Public Transit Accountability Project. He can be reached via email at [email protected]

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