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.

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