KRM is back on track! "We're kind of letting out our breath," said Debbie Truckey, community outreach liaison for Transit NOW. It's "another win," said Kerry Thomas, executive director of Transit NOW, in a memo sent to the organization's members.
Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, applauded the Senate action. “This maintains a framework for the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority to get a positive review from the Federal Transit Administration and allow southeastern Wisconsin to access at least $250 million in critically important resources for transportation and economic development.” KRM is "critical to the strength and recovery of our community," he said.
The Senate's compromise version of the budget essentially restores the original Assembly version of the KRM and Regional Transit Authority measures. KRM supporters who wanted to lynch Sen. John Lehman when the Senate's original budget appeared to derail KRM will now have to rethink their anger.
The legislation will will become law if the Assembly passes the budget later today, as expected, and Gov. Jim Doyle signs it by Wednesday, July 1, in time for the next two-year spending cycle.
The key KRM / RTA provision in the State Senate's final budget compromise includes an $18 car rental tax that would be spent this way:
- $1 for Racine to fund the BUS
- $1 for Kenosha for its transit system
- $2 to fund SERTA, the South-Eastern Regional Transit Authority
- $14 for KRM commuter rail
The Senate's bill also creates a Milwaukee Transit Authority funded by a .65% sales tax, with .5% of that going for transit in Milwaukee County and .15% to police, fire and emergency medical services.
Said Thomas, "Although the plan is not perfect, it gives us a critical regional foundation to build on and gets KRM Commuter Rail back on track....by next Wednesday we should be able to celebrate!" Assuming the Assembly approves the conference committee budget just passed by the Senate, and it is left unchanged by the governor, then the community has until September to submit its KRM application to the Federal Transit Administration.
Here is a summary of the transit portion of the budget, prepared by Transit NOW:
Creation of South-Eastern Regional Transit Authority (SERTA)
• Manage KRM Commuter Rail and provide local share of fundingCreation of Milwaukee Transit Authority (MTA)
• Municipal bodies with transit systems could vote by governing body to contract with SERTA to provide transit service.
• 9 member body. A quorum and any action taken would require a majority (5) of members.
• Funded by an $18 car rental fee, $1 of which would go to Racine’s bus system and $1 to Kenosha Area Transit. City of Racine and City of Kenosha would have to provide a local match to receive these funds.
• Five member bodySOUTH-EASTERN REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY (SERTA)
• The MTA would be authorized to levy a 0.65% sales tax for Milwaukee County.
• 0.5% of which would be mandated to go to the MTA for transit and the remaining 0.15% would be dispersed among Milwaukee County municipalities following a prorated formula based on the number of police and fire employees within each municipality.
• The Milwaukee County Board would be required to adopt, by majority vote, that 0.5% of the sales tax go to the MTA, only if the Milwaukee County Board agrees to be part of the MTA. The county Board would also need to vote to contract with SERTA for transit services.
• Specified as the only entity in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha that can apply for funding from the FTA for KRM Commuter Rail.
• Governance structure is as follows:
• Two appointees of the Milwaukee County Board; Two appointees of the Milwaukee Mayor; One appointee of the Kenosha County Board; One appointee of the Kenosha Mayor; One appointee of the Racine County Board; One appointee of the Racine Mayor; and One appointees of the Governor.
The SERTA would be funded by an $18 rental car tax dispersed in the following manner:
- $1 will go to the City of Racine for the BUS and $1 will go to the City of Kenosha for Kenosha Area Transit; both the City of Racine and the City of Kenosha would be required to generate new funds to match revenues generated by the $1 car rental tax, to support local transit;
- $2 will fund SERTA operations; and
- The remainder will fund KRM commuter rail.
- In order for municipalities in Racine and Kenosha Counties, outside of the cities of Racine and Kenosha to receive transit stops, they must provide a sustainable mechanism to generate new funding to contribute to their respective transit system.
- The MTA, Racine Belle Urban System (BUS) and Kenosha Area Transit would each be required to vote to contract with SERTA to provide transit services. Transit systems would be required to share their annual and long-range plans with SERTA.
- KRM stop must be located in the City of Milwaukee at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Bay Street.
- As proposed by the Governor, the SERTA would provide $100 million in bonding authority.