Council Considers Transportation Funding Idea

At a recent study session City staff and the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) again brought up the need for additional revenues to pay for road & bridge infrastructure, saying the funding gap is approximately $3 million. One solution, which has been considered and rejected by Council in the past, is a transportation fee. However, the City Council continues to feel uncomfortable with that concept. Unlike a tax, the fee would not require a public vote and could be added to utility bills, which is why non-elected transportation officials like the idea. The TAB has suggested a set fee for single-family homes and a larger fee for businesses based on their size. This would be easy to administer. It’s harder to envision how a transportation tax would be calculated, especially in Boulder where socially conscious voters might not like a one-size-fits-all tax that could be considered regressive.

The timing of bringing such a measure to the voters is tricky. For one thing, RTD may add a FasTracks tax increase to the ballot in 2012 and the Council would not want to place two transportation tax questions on the same ballot.

Councilman Macon Cowles supported the concept of a tax but went even further,  suggesting that parents of open-enrolled students should be taxed at a higher rate since they tend to drive more (ouch!). New Council member Suzanne Jones suggested the City research a community-wide Eco-pass program. Other Council members prudently suggested that other funding options should be pursued before the idea of a transportation tax. The study session was just the beginning of the discussion and the decision making process is in its early stages, especially if the Council decides to wait until 2013.

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