January 29, 2015

Montgomery County’s Independent Transit Authority: What It Is; Why We Need It



Montgomery County is one of the best places in America to earn a living, grow businesses, raise a family and build a better future.

But, great things can always be better. For example, the County needs to become a more walkable and liveable community, which will result in a better quality of life for residents and their families.

That kind of future, however, depends on increased transportation investment to accommodate more residents and encourage job growth within the County.

This is why County Executive Ike Leggett is proposing the formation of an Independent Transit Authority (ITA) in Montgomery County that can: grow jobs and business, foster transit-oriented development and expand transportation choices.

The Authority was recommended by the Executive's Transit Task Force in its report released in May 2012. The Executive highlighted it in his Inaugural address on December 1, 2014.

Among the broad range of supporters of the project are the Coalition for Smarter Growth, The Sierra Club, A Wider Circle, and the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.

Get the facts. Visit the ITA website.

Watch the public hearing on the ITA on Friday, January 30, at 6 p.m. -- live on County Cable Montgomery; Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN; channel 30 for Verizon.

Read The Washington Post article.

Check out the Coalition for Smarter Growth’s fact sheet.


12 comments:

  1. This almost seems redundant, especially with RideOn already in existence.

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    1. The new Authority would include Ride on but, beyond that, would work on the development of Bus Rapid Transit along the I-270, 355 and Route 29 corridors, as approved by the Council. That would be a major undertaking beyond the present ability of the County Dept. of Transportation, which now does roads and transit.

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  2. Why was the bill to create the ITA submitted LATE with a timeline that does not allow the public to review and discuss it prior to moving forward?
    Why does the bill EXEMPT the ITA from the County Charter?
    Why does the bill EXEMPT the ITA from imposing tax increases with no citizen input?

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    1. 1. The bill was late-filed because the legal drafting was not finished. The public hearing tonight before the County's State delegation is just the latest in the discussion. This was first highlighted nearly 3 years ago as a key recommendation of the County Executive’s Transit Task Force. He also highlighted it in his Inaugural address on December 1. Keep in mind, this bill does not establish an Authority. It merely gives the County the right to establish one. The County Council will make the decision pro or con and that will be accompanied by other public hearings and plenty of time for input, suggestions, improvements.

      2. So that we have reliable and long-term revenues and bonding for the development of the Bus Rapid Transit system in the future that do not compete annually against Police, Fire, roads, help for the vulnerable etc. under the Charter limit cap and also to create the possibility of private investments through public/private partnerships.

      3. The ITA will have zero taxing authority. That power will remain exclusively with the County Council.

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    2. The following comes right out of the bill: PROVISIONS OF THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY CHARTER DO NOT APPLY TO THE TRANSIT AUTHORITY UNLESS THE GOVERNING BODY OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY EXPRESSLY PROVIDES BY LAW THAT A CHARTER PROVISION APPLIES TO THE TRANSIT AUTHORITY

      No bill should contain any language like that under any circumstances. This is equivalent to the federal government exempting an agency from the constitution unless they feels like complying with it. No words you can say can get around that particular reality of this bill, and the goal of having the ability to increase revenue more easily is not justification. You are relying on the assumption that average voters are not sufficiently informed about the content of this bill and will rely on the county's statements about it. What matters is what is in the bill, not what you promise.

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    3. The legislation is clear that any decision to exempt the Authority from the County Charter would be made by the County Council. They would have that power, same as now.

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  3. Makes no sense. The county has access to Metro and can subsidize those facilities. The county does not need higher property taxes. Growth promotes taxes, so any concept of accelerating the already breakneck pace of development is silly.

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    1. Sorry, but Metro will be wholly uninvolved in any development of a Bus Rapid Transit network for Montgomery County. There are 100,000 new jobs to be developed in the County, but that growth can only go forward with more transit, especially along the I-270, 355 and Route 29 corridors. Those jobs and investment broaden our tax base which could put a smaller proportion of the burden on individual residents.

      The range of support for this includes the County Chamber of Commerce…AND the Sierra Club and the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

      This legislation only allows the County the right to set up an Authority. The County Council would then decide pro or con and only they can tax anything. The Authority would have NO taxing authority – on property taxes or anything else.

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  4. This just as Leggett says he wants to hike property taxes again!

    That's nice that the Authority has no taxing authority. Does anyone really think there existence and recommendations will NOT cause us more money??

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    1. On property taxes, the average property tax last year in Montgomery County went DOWN $4 while in Fairfax County people paid $357 more. Over the past 8 years, the percentage of County residents’ incomes that went for ALL Montgomery County taxes went DOWN 10 percent.

      The County Executive has said that, unless the economy improves or more State reductions do not materialize, the County will face a choice of increasing property taxes beyond the Charter limit (the previous year’s total, plus inflation) or reducing County services.

      The Bus Rapid Transit system already approved in a Master Plan by the Council will cost money – whether or not there is an Independent Transit Authority. It will also, however, unlock up to 100,000 new jobs which will create more wealth, broaden the tax base and could diminish the proportion of County taxes paid by residents

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  5. Bad idea, not needed, just another layer of government that will eventually require increased taxes to fund itself.

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    1. Actually, the idea is to give the authority the flexibility to run in a more private sector/business way that is less political while also assuring political accountability to the County via the powers of the County Council.

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