Apparently, being an entrepreneur isn’t as risky as long as you are a member of a city council, city commission, or city board. In Part 1 of City Acting as Entrepreneurs with Your Money the venture was real estate. In this part it is public transportation; city councils and commissions across these great United States were handed $50 billion1 last year, yes billion, to subsidize public transportation agencies.
According to a policy report from the CATO Institute “public transit may be the most heavily subsidized consumer-based industry in the country.” Last year the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) had
- An operating loss of more than $104 million2 of which $76.7 million Duval taxpayers covered.
- Of that $104 million the wage and benefit costs were $57.4 million.
- JTA receives a City Council- approved subsidy every year.
With such a dependency on subsidization it makes sense to expand, right?
Earlier this year Elevate Northeast Florida, an economic development strategy initiative, on behalf of local economic development agencies and JAXUSA, sent out a survey3 for public input on various issues such as:
- economic opportunity;
- satisfaction with the region;
- recreational opportunities;
- business climate; and
Improvement recommendations from the survey stated:
“The need to reduce traffic congestion and explore public transportation options was among the most pressing concern for a substantial number of survey participants” and that…
transportation was more of a concern than crime.”
(EDITORIAL NOTE: Transportation more concerning than crime????)
IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT THIS SURVEY:
The total survey population of this 7 county region is 1,317,1694
The total number of surveys returned were 1,341
Less than 0.1% of the population responded.
(EDITORIAL NOTE: Only 1,341 people responded????)
The Big Question to our readers and our City Leaders is this:
Does a less than 0.1% of the region’s input support the city moving forward with expanding the Skyway, expanding bus routes, and building a multi-million-dollar transportation hub?
The CATO report states “. . . transit agencies will leave behind a mountain of debt that local taxpayers will be obligated to pay” and also points to the unfunded liabilities of pensions for transit workers.
Mountain of debt raises more Big Questions to our readers and our City Leaders such as:
Does Jacksonville need to be concerned that Duval taxpayers have subsidized JTA by
more than $600 million2 since 2009?
Can Duval taxpayers afford this growing subsidy?
The City Council, Downtown Investment Authority, and more continue to increase the financial burden on taxpayers while they practice being entrepreneurs. Are you tired of these entrepreneurs wasting your tax dollars?
Finally – Do our City Leaders believe the facts or do they just like to spend our money while they look for the next rung on the ladder of their political careers?
Do they care about the debt they are voting in and leaving behind?
Will a future Mayor finally decide to take on this debt issue and do the right thing for us, the citizens of Duval County?
1 O’Toole, Randal. “The Coming Transit Apocalypse.” CATO Institute, CATO Institute, 24 Oct.2017, www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/coming-transit-apocalypse.
2 Berman, et al. “Financial Reports.” Jacksonville Transportation Authority, 2017,www.jtafla.com/about-jta/financial-reports/.
3 Community Survey Results. Elevate Northeast Florida, www.elevatenefl.com/.
4 United States Census Bureau, www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045217.