Sunday, July 31, 2011

WAVE Pushes $1.2 Million Dollar Tax Increase for New Hanover County Families

Uses questionable polling data to manipulate public and elected officials

Sounds unbelievable but it’s true. What WAVE Transit is peddling as a mere $7 addition to our automobile registration tax is actually a $1.2 million dollar tax increase for New Hanover County families. According to the New Hanover County tax office there were 173,930 vehicles in the county in 2010. At $7 per car, WAVE will be able to pick our pockets for another  $1.2 million if it has its way.

In an interview with WWAY, WAVE executive director Albert Eby said WAVE had done a scientific survey and “Eighty-seven percent of folks wanted to see service to the beaches." County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield, who also sits on the WAVE transit board, made a similar claim in a September email to constituents. Barfield stated that “…87% of residents in the community are supportive of public transportation service to Wrightsville and the Southern Beaches.”

Our economy is collapsing. Our nation is on the verge of economic default. Families are losing their homes and somehow 87% of citizens in New Hanover County are in favor of higher taxes to pay for bus rides to the beach? That just doesn’t make sense. Honestly, it seems unbelievable.

But hey, this is something everybody wants. That’s what we were told, right? A closer look at the survey Eby and Barfield reference shows the 87% touted is not all that its cracked up to be and is misleading at best.

Approximately 1100 people took the survey. Only 150 of the 1100 even bothered to respond to the question about bus service to the beaches. Of those 150, 130 did indeed agree that buses to the beaches would improve service. Technically, that is 87%.

When you analyze the numbers honestly you see it was only 130 out of 1100, a mere 12% that supported bus service to the beaches. Not quite the “community support” we were told. Keep in mind 950 people didn’t even care enough to answer the question about service to the beaches.

It should also be noted that this same survey showed people put spending tax dollars on more public transportation at nearly the bottom of the priority list. 75 percent did not support a sales tax increase to pay for WAVE expansion, and likewise 90 percent did not support property tax increases.  That wasn't mentioned in the press reports. 

For those representing WAVE to put forth this survey as public support for their agenda is disturbing. To say they have the support of 87% of the community is intellectually dishonest at best. The question now is how can the public trust information coming from this organization?

According to WAVE’S own figures the average cost per ride is $4, yet they charge only $1. The truth is a very slight increase in bus fares would cover any route expansions. Not an idea WAVE Transit seems to be willing to discuss. They’d rather tax those that don’t ride the bus to pay for those that do.

 In the end this proposed scheme would take $1.2 million dollars out of our local economy to be given WAVE for routes that are not needed. Just what the doctor ordered to improve the worst local economy in decades. If  WAVE has it’s way, it will be an ever growing tax burden on the back on new Hanover County families as it continues to expand it’s empire. Hopefully county commissioners will stop this one before it ever leaves the station.

Reference links:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

County Looking to Take Control of Trash Collection Business

The county held the first of 3 meetings tonight at Ogden Elementary to discuss trash. An estimated 150 people were in attendance to voice their opinion to county officials. After a brief presentation by county officials, a steady stream of people stepped up to the microphone to voice their opposition to the countys efforts to take over trash removal services.

The proposed plan divides the unincorporated parts of the county into two parts, the north and the south. Carriers would bid on providing service to each of the two areas. Winning bidders would provide services for garbage, yard debris, recycling and appliances removal.

While county Manager Bruce Shell said, “Decisions have not been made”,  it appears the county is well on its way to taking over the garbage collection business.

For nearly an hour and a half, one after another, people spoke in opposition to the countys proposal. Commissioner Thompson said on more than one occasion that the people at the meeting did not represent the rest of the county. He also pointed to what he saw as the city’s success in the garbage collection business as support for the county’s plan.

The county tries to claim it would not be eliminating competition, but that’s simply not true. They would in fact bid out the contract and award it to a single carrier for an extended amount of time. Residential customers would be forced to use the company selected by the county or transport their garbage to the dump themselves.

The county’s plan would only apply to residential customers. Businesses would still be free to choose the garbage carrier of their choice.

So whom does the county’s have as a consultant for the project? According County Manager Bruce Shell it’s the same one that advised the county on the failed R3 Environmental deal.

One resident commented officials were coming up with a plan to fix something that wasn’t broke. Another asked to simply be left alone, which lead to a roaring round of applause. The overall sentiment was that residents were happy with their current service and wanted to maintain their ability to choose their service provider.

In the end, this plan by the county represents the most current trend in government. That trend is it to come up with a plan to expand government services, and rather than increase taxes which would create an uproar, they develop a way to send it to tax payers in the form of a bill. Either way, the county seems to be on a mission to expand services in spite of public input. In the end, it will likely result in higher cost for everyone.

Monday, July 25, 2011

WAVE Seeks Tax Increase on NHC Families to Expand Routes

WAVE Transit is pushing a tax increase to pay for expanded bus routes to area beaches. A previous pitch by WAVE had beach towns paying to supplement the bus service, but the town leaders didn’t buy in. This go round WAVE has changed tactics proposing increasing vehicle taxes on New Hanover County families hoping beach leaders approve.

Here’s an idea, why not have those riding the newly proposed beach routes actually pay the cost for providing the service? If someone were to takes a bus to the beach, it’d be for pleasure or to save money on a parking spot. Why should the citizens of New Hanover County have to pay for that? If this is such a needed service, riders should be willing to pay the cost.

On the other hand, the free market has already provided cheap transportation for those not wanting to fight for parking spots at the beach. It’s called a Taxi. They’ll even pick you up right at your front door with no waiting at 100 plus degree bus stops on hot summer days.

Some claim bus service will bring extra revenue to the beaches. Oh, really? If someone can’t afford cab fare for a ride to the beach, why does anyone think that same person will have extra cash for dining and shopping.

On line public comments showed strong opposition to the idea. Opponents point out problems with everything from reports showing declining WAVE ridership to nearly empty buses driving around town.

Bus rides to the beach are a luxury, not a necessity. For any elected official, or bureaucrat at WAVE, to even hint at a tax increase for such a luxury at this time is hard to believe. It shows just how out of touch they are with the people they are suppose to represent. Maybe now is a good time to take a closer look at WAVE as they lobby to become an ever growing tax burden on the cItizens of New Hanover County.

Any tax increase would have to come before the New Hanover County Commissioners for approval. Be sure to take time tell your elected official what you think before it’s to late. You can contact your New Hanover County Commissioners here.