The executive director of C-Tran did not ask the transit agency’s board of directors to review additional Columbia River Crossing Light Rail project* documents as was scheduled to continue during Tuesday evening’s board meeting.
The board reviewed the CRC draft environmental impact statement during its June meeting and was scheduled to review the finance plan Tuesday.
Executive Director Jeff Hamm said Tuesday’s delay was the result of wanting to provide the most up to date information to the board. He said the Oregon State Treasurer’s office is currently conducting a review of the finance plan, and that C-Tran’s board should wait for the Oregon treasurer to finish before the C-Tran board undertakes its own review.
The transit board’s review of the CRC environmental impact statement and finance plan will eventually result in Hamm asking the board for authorization to sign the documents on behalf of C-Tran.
Citizens concerned with CRC issues dominated the public comment session during Tuesday’s meeting. They expressed continued concern over not holding a public vote on light rail matters. Many praised Washington Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler for recent letters she sent in support of a public vote. One of those letters was to Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt as reported by The Columbian.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, committee members were appointed by the board to write the “for” and “against” arguments that will appear in the voter information pamphlet for C-Tran’s November ballot measure. The measure asks for a 0.2 percent sales tax increase to maintain services that are currently being paid for with the agency’s reserve money. The transit staff said those reserves will run out within the first eight months of 2013 if the tax increase is not approved.
Further action to approve a ballot measure explanatory statement to also be printed in the voter information pamphlet was delayed after Leavitt expressed a desire to reword some of the statement. That issue will be taken up at the August board meeting.
During the public comment session a citizen asked if the proposed tax increase could be used to pay for light rail. Hamm said that technically the funds could pay for some light rail expenses, just as any C-Tran general funds could, but added that the board has specifically marked the proposed tax increase to pay for the current transit services being paid for with C-Tran reserve money. He said that money will run out in 2013.
* The well-documented cost to taxpayers, if the CRC stays on budget, is $10 billion. This was established by the Cortright Report (PDF) which used data from an independent review panel hired by the governors of Washington and Oregon. (View the panel’s final report.)
See our continuing coverage of the Columbia River Crossing Light Rail project.
Do you have information to share on the CRC? To respond anonymously call 260-816-1426. To allow your comments to be used on COUV.COM call 260-816-1429.