UPDATE: SERTA voted this morning to ask the feds for approval to begin preliminary engineering work on KRM. At the same time, they voted against enacting the $18 rental car fee to fund the commuter rail proposal -- at least until the Federal Transit Administration OK's the application. More from the Journal Sentinel here.
Remember the $18 car rental tax proposed to pay our share of KRM commuter rail?
Hard to believe, eh?, especially since the Legislature's inaction at the end of the session just last month appeared to bury the Regional Transit Authority legislation once and for all.
The Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SERTA) has scheduled a discussion of the "New Starts" application to the Federal Transit Administration for Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail. Members will decide today whether to submit that application -- and if they do that, they will consider "enactment of vehicle rental fee," according to the May 17 meeting agenda. The meeting is at 8 a.m. at Mitchell Airport.
A PowerPoint presentation prepared in April by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission -- which represents Racine, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Walworth and Ozaukee Counties -- assumes an initial $9 vehicle rental fee to be enacted this month, with revenues collected beginning Sept. 1, 2010; the fee would increase to $18 in March 2012, with the expanded revenue collection to begin on July 1, 2012.
Vehicle rental fee revenues are predicted to produce $10 million to $14.2 million a year, from 2017 to 2028. Commuter fare revenues during the same period are projected to raise $5 million to $6.6 million annually. The rest of the needed operating funds would come from state and federal sources.
Last June, Gov. Doyle said he wanted to veto the car rental fee proposal, but he left it intact "because the transit authority must have a local funding source to move forward with the federal application promise." Doyle had proposed a .5% sales tax, but legislators demurred. Other proposals have included a wheel tax; that, too, has gone nowhere. Last month, the Racine County Board voted to authorize a referendum in November, asking voters: " Should any new tax to support transit or rail services, such as a sales tax or local vehicle registration fee, be permitted in any part of Racine County?" That vote would be strictly advisory, and would have no bearing on SERTA's ability to impose a car rental tax (which would be mostly collected in Milwaukee County anyway.)
Citizens for Responsible Government notes, "SERTA is proceeding with applying to the federal government for the project even though they said in December it wouldn’t be considered without passage of still more tax increases by the legislature. Those taxes failed, but SERTA may raise taxes anyway."
SERTA's meeting agenda is here; the link to the New Starts presention is agenda item 7 b.