Today the governor's signature turned legislation into state law: Triangle residents now have new options to pay for ambitious bus and rail transit improvements, with $86 million a year from sources including a half-cent sales tax hike.
The whole state is affected, but the biggest impact of the new legislation is in the Triangle (see Aug. 14 story with reader comments).
"We commend Governor Perdue for signing this bill into law," said Berry Jenkins, co-chair of NC Go, a statewide transportation advocacy group. "This isn't a tax, but the freedom for communities and citizens who consider public transportation a priority to hold a vote. If a community is not ready, voters won't approve. But they should have that option."
If county commissioners in Wake, Durham and Orange agree, and if voters give their approval in a referendum, the three counties would collect an estimated $73 million a year from a half-cent sales tax that would be dedicated to local transit. No vote is expected before late 2010 or 2011.
Other new transit revenue streams would come from increased vehicle registration fees and a special property tax hike only in Research Triangle Park. In addition, Triangle cities also have new transit revenue powers, from legislation authorizing hikes in local car registration fees.