Research and discussion for citizens and decision makers

Houston Transit Bulletin 1

Transit tax for transit

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The Metro board of directors will soon decide whether to halt transit expansion for years in order to continue the diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars of sales tax dollars to 15 cities and Harris County.

We believe it is in the best interests of all the cities - especially the City of Houston - to invest that money in increasing the tax base through the rising property values and sales taxes that occur around transit stations.

Between now and the June 28 board meeting, we will provide information about this issue, using research gathered by us and our partners. You can tell Metro what you think by sending a letter to the Mayor and the Metro Board of Directors here
, or by showing up to speak at a special board meeting on June 18 from 6-8 pm.

We hope you’ll help to secure a sustainable future for Houston and the region.

$5.4 billion lost for transit
For decades, Metro has been forced to surrender billions of dollars of its sales tax revenue to 15 cities and unincorporated Harris County. Over that period, $2.7 billion have gone directly out the window, which could have been used to leverage $2.7 billion more in federal funds.

Where the money goes
The lion’s share goes to the City of Houston, mostly for road projects. Unincorporated Harris County gets 18%, 14 cities take 16%, and the rest goes to the Motorist Assistance Program. Additionally, about 1/3 of the cost of the 3 current rail projects is City of Houston street and sewer work.

Wow! What a deal!
All of the entities in this scheme get more back than 25% of the sales tax collected in their area - except the City of Houston. For instance, from 1988-2014, Piney Point Village will have contributed $1,492,000 and received $23,571,000 - almost 16 times its investment.

What’s at stake
There is no money for additional transit, especially to proceed with the University or Uptown/Galleria rail lines that voters thought would be in service in 2012 and are crucial to regional service. The most optimistic plan would have some of the University line in service in 2025 or so…

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