Jeramey Jannene
Breaking News

RTA Passes Joint Finance Committee

By - May 1st, 2009 02:23 am
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The Regional Transit Authority passed the Joint Finance Committee this morning at 2:17 a.m., but not in a very regional way.  The Regional Transit Authority is now largely property of the Milwaukee County Board thanks to Pedro Colon and Lena Taylor‘s amendment.  The .5% sales tax is now a 1% sales tax, and Racine and Kenosha counties are out.  The 1% Milwaukee County sales tax increase will also cover parks and EMS as well as transit, with no clear distinction on which piece gets which amount.  Furthermore, 15% of the 1% sales tax will be distributed to the City of Milwaukee to use as they wish.

The KRM is now an authority onto itself, funded by a $16 rental car tax for Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee counties.  Numerous questions await if the federal government will sign off on such a funding formula.  The makeup of the KRM authority is also different, and will not follow the recommendations of the RTA.  There are no longer representatives from the county seats.

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11 thoughts on “Breaking News: RTA Passes Joint Finance Committee”

  1. Green Racine says:

    My thought is the feds will not sign off. At the last meeting I was at on KRM that is what we were told. The Feds all ready said that the rental car taxwould not fly.
    If so maybe just maybe KRM is dead as it should be.
    I wonder why The Pro KRM folks never wanted an up or down vote. Could it be they knew KRM is not wanted by those who would ride it?

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Green Racine yeah I’m concerned about the change in proposed funding but well I guess we’ll see. That said there was an up and down vote, our publicly elected officials voted on the KRM and RTA at 2:17am 🙂

  3. JCG says:

    @Green Racine: “…KRM is not wanted by those who would ride it?” How, exactly, does that work? Guess I missed the “force people out of their car and onto a train at gunpoint” provisions being proposed.

  4. Ryan Horton says:

    The very last paragraph of the Journal Sentinel’s article this morning contains the following puzzling statement: “The KRM board could impose the sales tax without the approval of voters or elected officials.”

    I’m confused. Everything that I can read about what happened last night makes it seem that the KRM board is only authorized to levy the $16 rental car fee.

    Do you have any additional insight? Thanks for the help – Ryan

  5. Dave Reid says:

    @Ryan I think that got muddled a bit. I think what they were trying to say is that by creating these two authorities they just created two bodies that can tax but aren’t directly elected, and that there won’t be referendums on these projects as 2 Rs were pushing as a stalling tactic. I think that is where they were going. Of course authorities have been around forever so this really isn’t anything new, and I can’t remember The Marquette Interchange, The Zoo Interchange or I-94 expansion going to referendum either so that was just more politicing as well.

  6. I just want to make it clear that this Milwaukee County sales tax proposal also includes arts and culture. This includes all County funding for institutions such as the Marcus Center, War Memorial, Public Museum, Zoo, Villa Terrace, et al. as well as grant funding direct to groups through CAMPAC. This is currently somewhat over $12 million annually.

    I represent the Cultural Alliance of Greater Milwaukee and the challenge about this proposal is : 1) we are one of only a handful of states where the performing arts groups PAY SALES TAX on their ticket sales. An additional 1% sales tax will cost these groups well over $250,000 in aggregate. 2) Now, and in the November referendum, there is no indication if there will be any additional funds for these arts groups as the needs of transit and parks have largely overshadowed culture. And, 3) We believe that a dedicated public funding source for arts and culture is best developed on a regional, not county, basis – because that is how patrons support arts and culture.

    So, we will be looking very closely at how this unfolds and what it can mean for arts and culture in our region.

  7. Ryan Horton says:

    Thanks Dave – I was looking for a “silver lining” in this very messy piece of legislation, but I guess you’re right about the last part just being muddled. Anyway, I look forward to reading your take on the final outcome. It appears that the Milwaukee region won’t have a truly regional transit authority anytime in the near future. The balkanization of Southeastern Wisconsin continues.

  8. Dave Reid says:

    Yeah it’s not exactly what we were hoping for… still gotta read through it all as yeah it is messy. AND I’ll let Jeramey do the followup as he’s more of the “expert” on the subject;)

  9. Green Racine says:

    The black hole that is the City of Milwaukee will continue to take more and more out of the pockets of those living there until of couse everyone who can will leave and Milwaukee will become (If Racine does not beat you to it) the new Detroit.
    Keep doing like you are with more taxes forcing benefits on small business they can not afford and Milwaukee just might beat Racine

  10. artMKE says:

    KRM Metra field trip to Chicago today


    To broaden my understanding of the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee Metra line potential, I took a round-trip Kenosha-Chicago train today.

    The drive to Kenosha naturally went well early in the morning. But, unfamiliar with Kenosha, a directional sign or two would add a level of reassurance while navigating to the station.

    Kenosha’s Metra station interior could use some economic development. The outside seems fine, but the inside seems too dark and out of date. Also, the men’s room needs soap. (Kenosha cabs also need updating.)

    The station and boarding

    The north-south tracks separate the station on one side from the Metra office and shops on the other. As the end of the line, trains go back and forth through a wye to turn turn themselves around for the next run. The station, office/shops, wye and tracks account for several acres of property.

    The friendly guy running the “sandwich shop” cheerfully sold the $1.50 parking permit needed for the day.

    At least 30 people boarded the train at Kenosha this morning, including a couple of suits, a couple of families, business-casual types and assorted other passengers, some with luggage. One locomotive powered the six bi-level cars.

    Metra does not staff Kenosha with a trainmaster, so passengers buy tickets on board from the friendly conductors. Chicago one-way, $7.05 ($5 on weekends.).

    The ride

    Like a precision clock, the 7:51 express moved out on time. Smooth, quiet and comfortable.

    As we pick up passengers at station after station, a pattern emerges: Everyone reads! Almost everyone reads a newspaper, others read a book or smartphone while some open their cases for paperwork. You looking for a high concentration of newspaper readers? They’re on the 751.

    Regular passengers take their regular seats, put their passes in holders for the conductors to punch — some greet friends and colleagues on the train (“Oh. I see you’re going in early today!” hahaha).

    On time, of course, the train stopped at 9:15 inside the Ogilvie Transportation Center, on Madison (across the street from Amtrak/Union Station).

    The return trip

    The 12:35 return trip unwound the morning’s experience — the train started with a full load and dropped off passengers until a few of us remained for Kenosha.

    All the while, thoughts came easily of fine service like this running frequently between Milwaukee and Chicago.

    Do it yourself!

    Take a field trip of your own. This is a one-time test drive, for sure. It makes little sense to drive an hour to Kenosha to take a 84-minute train to Chicago! But this can instill a real-world, hands-on experience of what a KRM Metra train could do for people in and between Chicago and Milwaukee. A quiet, civil, stress-free and literate way to travel.

    Riding at different times of day and days of week may change your experience from the one summarized today.


  11. Joel says:

    way ahead of ya artMKE…

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