Not everyone is happy with the MTA Bailout: Westchester, Rockland and Lower Hudson Valley reaction.
Not eveyone who uses the MTA is happy. Most Suburbrian train riders in Westchester/Rockland and the lower Hudson River Valley who use Metro North are unhappy at the bailout, especially County Executives at the payroll taxes. Here the Westchester/Rockland Journal News story.
Deal struck on MTA rescue
By Ken Valenti and Cara Matthews • firstname.lastname@example.org • Wednesday May 6, 2009
The state Legislature and Gov. David Paterson announced yesterday that they reached a deal on the bailout of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that would prevent large fare increases and service cuts.
The plan would raise about $2.26 billion a year to help the troubled agency. The bulk of the money - $1.5 billion - would be collected from a payroll tax in the 12 counties served by the MTA. The rest would come from a 10 percent fare increase this year and other fees. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the proposal today.
"Last week, when the MTA announced that there would be an additional $600 million deficit that had to be addressed, it became clear to me that this situation was rapidly deteriorating and we were facing a devastating situation if we did not act," Paterson said.
Earlier yesterday, county executives in the Lower Hudson Valley assailed the new payroll tax at the center of the rescue plan for the MTA. A couple of them have even hinted at a lawsuit or leaving the MTA network altogether on the payroll tax issue.
Last night, the Rockland County Legislature unanimously adopted a resolution to oppose the payroll tax and withdraw from the MTA, Chairwoman Harriet Cornell said.
Legislator Alden Wolfe, D-Suffern, said the Legislature wanted to make a "very strong statement."
"If we get permission to withdraw, we'll do an analysis of what we're actually getting from the MTA. We're tired of getting the short end of the stick," he said.
Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef the most angry of all interviewed said his county should consider legal action or even breaking away from the MTA.
"For Rockland County, it's insult upon insult, and I think discussions about whether we stay with MTA or find a new way to provide regional transportation is now in order," said Vanderhoef, a Republican. "We dont even have a direct 1-train ride to Midtown and yet we are taxed this heavily.'
Vanderhoef added that his county is the only one served by Metro North in which residents must pay tolls to get to New York City and the higher tolls for car registatrtion is unfair.
MTA's Metro-North Railroad contracts with NJ Transit to provide service in Rockland with riders transfering in New Jersey to get to Manhattan. While a few others, drive across the Tappan Zee Bridge and catch a Metro North train at Tarrytown for Grand Central service.
The deal rached last night has changed from an earlier proposal in that employers in every county would be charged 34 cents for every $100 of payroll. Putnam, Dutchess and Orange counties originally were going to pay 25 cents for every $100 of payroll because they are farther from the MTA's hub in New York City.
Paterson said that was changed in an effort to make the plan as uniform as possible and defuse any arguments on whether one county had a more difficult situation than another.
The agreement calls for a 10 percent fare increase now, meaning $2.25 for the subway and buses, followed by additional increases of 7.5 percent in both 2011 and 2013. The original fare increase proposed by state officials was 8 percent.
Another change is that a portion of the money raised will allow the MTA to preserve its $6.5 billion capital plan through 2011. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, yesterday asked that the plan include some capital funding, and the proposal was revised to include this. "We believe we have rescued this system from the brink of abyss," he said.
Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, a Democrat, held a news conference yesterday to reiterate his objection to the idea of charging all employers the payroll tax, including local governments, nonprofits and hospitals. Spano believed the payroll tax should have not included nonprofits such as schools and hospitals. He said the problem was inefficiencies in the MTA.
"When you bail out an inefficient agency, you get more inefficiencies," he said, adding that a new tax would make it more difficult to lure businesses to Westchester.
Putnam Deputy County Executive John Tully said it was unfair to tax Putnam businesses, arguing that they don't benefit from MTA services. He also noted that Putnam commuters pay higher fares than those in some other counties because their stations are farther from New York City.
The MTA is more than $1.8 billion in debt and needs help from the state to avoid a fare increase of 25 percent or more and service cuts next month. The transit system serves New York City, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess and Orange counties and Long Island.
Lawmakers will have to return later this year to vote on a statewide capital plan for roads and bridges. Paterson said economists believe the credit markets will be more open in the third and fourth quarters of the year than they are now, so it will be a better time to work on a statewide plan.
Supporters of the payroll tax idea said the entire region benefits from MTA services, which include New York City subways and buses, Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road.
The MTA bailout plan would increase other taxes and fees in the 12-county region, including:
- Boosting the auto-rental tax from 6 percent to 11 percent.
- Placing a $25 fee on motor vehicle registration and raising the fee for a driver's license by 25 percent.
- Putting a 50-cent surcharge on taxi rides in New York City and the suburbs, down from $1 in the state Senate's original plan.
The fare increases on Metro-North and the MTA services is expected to take effect by no later than July.
c)2009 Journal News, Inc.
Edited by TTCGiant1 (05/07/09 10:39 AM)