The Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers OPPOSES Measure I, which would renew until 2059 the ¼ cent sales tax dedicated to the Sonoma Marin Area Rapid Transit (SMART) agency. Measure I will be on the ballot for the March 3, 2020 election (ballots mail around February 1).
Leading Marin citizens’ opposition, CO$T submitted the primary and rebuttal arguments against Measure I, which appear in the voter pamphlet. CO$T’s two ballot arguments, shown below, make the case for why Marin should vote NO. As you read through these, please take note of the co-signers of our ballot arguments, who joined a wide-ranging coalition opposed to giving SMART 39 years of free rein with our tax dollars.
PRIMARY ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE I (Prepared and Submitted by CO$T)
At $2.4 billion dollars in new taxes, Measure I is too much for something that does so little. There’s no accountability.
Measure I adds a 30-year extension of Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District’s (SMART) current sales tax, which doesn’t even expire for another nine years.
Measure I gives SMART a blank check with our sales tax dollars until 2059 -allowing it to spend tax revenue on things that don’t improve transportation. SMART lacks transparency and needs better budget oversight.
SMART has had no material impact on 101 traffic in Marin. BUT they’ve made Central Marin traffic much worse.
COSTLY AND INEFFICIENT
- For each round trip on SMART, the subsidy is more than $100. So in addition to the ticket price it costs taxpayers an additional $100 per round trip for each rider.
- More than 42% of SMART’s current sales tax revenue goes to pay interest on its debt.
- Connections to other public transit like Larkspur ferry aren’t synced. Passengers will wait up to 90 minutes for train-ferry connections.
- In 2008, SMART promised 70 miles of train track. Eleven years later there are only 45 miles.
- SMART – began rail service over three years behind schedule and massively over budget
- SMART promised Marin voters a 70 mile continuous bike path. A fraction of the path has been built, in non-continuous segments. Current plans for Measure spending doesn’t include ANY bike path money.
POOR MANAGEMENT AND BAD DECISIONS
•SMART will spend $65 million for a three mile Windsor track extension that generates few additional riders.
• SMART didn’t implement 7 of 8 of a Grand Jury report’s recommendations designed to improve the agency’s financial oversight and communication with the public.
Vote NO on Measure I and send a strong message to SMART that they can’t waste any more taxpayer money.
COALITION OF SENSIBLE TAXPAYERS
Mimi Willard, President
CITIZENS FOR SUSTAINABLE PENSION PLANS
Jody Morales, Founder
MIKE ARNOLD PhD, Economist
PAUL PREMO Foreperson Pro Tem, 2012-2013 Marin County Civil Grand Jury
CARSTEN ANDERSEN Former President, Marin Cyclists
REBUTTAL TO THE ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE I (Prepared and Submitted by CO$T)
SMART Gets Another $2.4 Billion from Measure I. Marin Gets Nothing
4 out of 5 of SMART’s scanty ridership are Sonoma residents.
What SMART promised Marin — but can’t deliver — is traffic and greenhouse gas reduction. They don’t even try to substantiate those claims.
The Inconvenient Truth
SMART trains block major Marin arteries, snarling tens of thousands of exhaust emitting cars in a massive daily traffic jam. This benefits under 1,000 commuters riding to/through Central Marin. Many previously rode buses.
SMART repeatedly refused to promptly provide ACCURATE, DETAILED ridership data. They don’t want you know they’re running so many near-empty diesel trains. That increases carbon emissions and wastes taxpayer dollars on subsidies averaging nine times the ticket price.
SMART blew off Marin County Civil Grand Jury’s recommended reforms. SMART’s Citizens Oversight Committee met only once in 2018.
- SMART’s interest expense RISES another $47 million under Measure I. Postponing debt repayment 30 years costs us much more interest.
- Measure I commits ZERO to addressing the broken promise of a continuous 70 mile bike/pedestrian path.
- With only a single-track, SMART cannot provide frequent service nor fix long waits for ferry connections.
This sales tax costs on average $9,700 per Marin household.
The current sales tax doesn’t expire until 2029. It is regional infrastructure. SMART should be funded instead by the proposed November 2020 $100 Billion nine-county Faster Bay Area Transportation Sales Tax, NOT a Marin County sales tax.
VOTE NO. Visit NotSoSmart.org
JAMES H. ANDREWS
Councilman & Mayor, Town of Corte Madera
ROGER E. ROBERTS
Project Finance Analyst
THOMAS A. RUBIN