The Regional Transportation District (RTD) Board has unofficially decided against placing a 0.4 percent sales tax increase on the November ballot to …
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The Regional Transportation District (RTD) Board has unofficially decided against placing a 0.4 percent sales tax increase on the November ballot to fund FasTracks.
This means, if current financial projections remain as they are, the North Metro and Northwest lines will not be completed until the 2040s.
Thornton Mayor Heidi Williams said she usually is not a fan of tax increases, but this proposed increase was the best plan to ensure the line in Thornton would be built out in the near future.
“I am very disappointed that RTD made the decision to forgo the opportunity to let the people in the metro area vote to decide whether they approve of additional sales tax to finish FasTracks,” she said. “The tax, if passed, would have completed the North Metro Corridor by 2020.”
Twelve out of the 15 RTD board members indicated during the April 24 study session that this was not the year to ask for a tax measure.
“We went around the table and decided now isn’t the time,” said Larry Hoy, who represents District J. “We didn’t feel people were ready to say, ‘Let’s pay a little more to get it done sooner.’”
District J incorporates all of Federal Heights; a large portion of Westminster; and portions of Arvada, Northglenn, Thornton and unincorporated Adams and Jefferson counties.
District M Director Matt Cohen said he would have preferred putting the tax measure on the ballot this year, but the feedback he got was that there was no regional consensus on how to move forward.
“I don’t want to put something before the voters just so it can fail,” he said.
District M includes Golden, Lakewood and Wheat Ridge. He said an official decision will be made at the FasTracks Committee on Tuesday, May 1, to withdraw the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) Annual Report, which assumed a new tax. The committee meets after press time.
If that action passes out of committee, the board will officially vote on the issue at its May 15 meeting.
“What this means for the Northwest rail at this point is that it gets built as funding is available from the original 0.4 percent, sometime around the mid-2040s, I’m guessing,” Cohen said.
He said funds won’t be available until sometime in the late 2030s to even begin construction of the Northwest line.
“With or without a tax increase, it will get done,” Hoy said of the North Metro line. “The issue is how soon it’ll get done.”
Hoy said that while financial projections put completion in the 2040s, the project is a dynamic situation and things change. He said that the board could come back in 2013 or in any year and ask for a tax increase again, and that private-public partnerships could be forged that could get the lines completed sooner.
Williams said the goal now is to ensure that whatever build-out plan RTD develops will provide a direct benefit to the citizens and that the north area receives the transit connections citizens were promised in 2004.
“RTD’s plan and investments need to be made here, in the north area, and not just south of I-70,” she said.
Hoy noted that FasTracks lines being built in Adams County. He said the Northwest rail to 71st Avenue and Irving Street is funded and passenger service is scheduled for 2016. He added that the North Metro Rail Line up to the National Western Stock Show, 4655 Humboldt St. in Denver, is funded, too, and passenger service is scheduled for 2017.
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