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All the cool kids are raising taxes.

November 16, 2010

RTD, I love you enough to pay an extra 0.4 percent.

How does this sound?

  • 122 more miles of new commuter rail and light rail
  • 18 more miles of bus rapid transit
  • 21,000 new parking spaces at light rail and bus stations

Sounds a little bit like a dream, right? It is a dream for many cities—but not for my beloved Denver.

The city’s working to make it happen by offering citizens a menu of palatable tax increases .

If the measure gets on the ballot next year, Denver voters will be able to choose from sales and use tax hike of 0.1 percent,0 .2 percent, 0.3 percent, or 0.4 percent. The money would go to the RTD FasTracks Program, as it rolls out a multi-billion dollar comprehensive transit expansion plan stretching across eight counties.

Perhaps I’m being naïve, but this seems like pocket change leading to major improvements in public transit.

I know what you’re thinking: We’re slogging through an economic crisis and just trying to get by until things get better; tax increases are out of the question.

That may be what people are thinking, but here in Denver at least, that’s not what they’re doing when they get in the voting booth.

The Colorado Municipal League (CML), which represents cities and towns across the state, have found a consistent pattern of success for local tax-increase measures. In their report on this November’s election, CML said:

“Even in the down economy, municipal voters this election cycle continued to say ‘yes’ more than ‘no’ on tax increases and tax policy issues.”

See? Everyone else is doing it; you should too! Don’t even start with the “If everyone jumped off a bridge …” line. We’re talking urban planning here, not suicide strategy.

Tell RTD you want a tax increase and you want it now.


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