RFTA should look outside the box
July 23, 2005
Dear Editor:Aspen officials planning on using “creativity to find the funds” for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority development scheme, might consider looking outside of the tax-and-spend box (“RFTA plan may need local funds,” July 20).One instance of “creativity” that taxpayers should deplore is RFTA’s attempts to undermine the Constitutional protections citizens set in place to secure themselves against predatory property taxes. The proposed transit mitigation fee is little more than the same tired old approach of sneaking a tax onto the doorstep of the American Dream.Worse, the $4 million in existing tax dollars RFTA has sunk into research and lobbying on behalf of this gold-plated plan would have been better spent on incremental changes that could improve efficiency (and in turn attract customers) in the near term.The mad rush to “attract additional riders” by spending more money on bells and whistles should never be the goal of a taxpayer-funded transit system, especially when most transportation needs have already been adequately addressed. With an average commute time of just 12 minutes, compared to a U.S. average of 25, RFTA officials will be hard-pressed to get anyone out of their cars. Their energies would be better spent ensuring RFTA’s balance sheet breaks even – a feat few transit systems anywhere in the country are able to achieve.There are other options available for policymakers to reduce traffic congestion, such as appropriate toll pricing during peak hours or allowing park and ride lots already being built by RFTA to be used by carpoolers. Then, perhaps “RFTA on Steroids” would no longer need to muscle taxpayers out of their money.Elizabeth A. TerrellNational Taxpayers UnionAlexandria, Va.