It will provide stable funding for transit services in Columbia County by creating a Transit Service District, which will remain under oversight of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners. It will NOT create more staff, boards or another entity.
It provides a permanent tax rate of .18 cents per $1000 of assessed property value. That is about $34 a year on an average valued home. Far less than a daily cup of coffee.
Columbia County is the only county in the State that does NOT have a sustainable tax to operate public transportation. The County provided $135,000 in State lottery funds used to match funds for State Transportation grants. These grant funds can only be used to expand services, NOT to operate existing service and are NOT guaranteed.
Transit funding presently comes from 60% grants, which require matching funds; 25% from fares of passengers; 9% from contracts with employers; and 6% from state lottery funds and local city contributions. This is NOT enough to operate a stable transit system or prevent service cuts. This affects not only commuters, but disabled, seniors, students & veterans who rely on public transportation throughout Columbia County. This results in less reliable service and a decrease in ridership overall. I know, because I’ve taken the bus for 20+ years.
About now, you may be asking yourself, why should I care, I don’t use public transportation. Reliable public transportation increases livability for everyone. For every $1 spent on transit, $4 comes back into local communities. Even if you don’t use public transit, someone you know does or will in the near future. Maybe even you.