City council takes one step closer to dipping into property taxes for rail

Local News

A proposal that allows the city to use property taxes to pay for the rail project moved forward today at city council and is one step closer to becoming reality.

At stake is $44 million that the federal government wants the city to commit to the project.

The proposal passed the second of three hearings Wednesday. And while there were some council members who voted against it, most of them say there was no other choice.

You might recall that the Federal Transit Administration sent a letter to the city last month wanting an update on how the city plans to come up with the $44 million.
      
The mayor raised concerns that if the city did not pass a bill that would raise the money, then the FTA might not come through with the rest of the money it had pledged for the rail project, which is more than $700 million.
    
City council members raised concerns that the FTA might need the city to commit more money to the project in the future. 

“So far down the road cause right now the $44 million is in front of us. But I know very well that especially after communicating with the FTA and seeing that there can be gaps in communication and things change all of a sudden,” said councilman Trevor Ozawa.

“What assurances can I give you of meeting that budget? I don’t think anybody can guarantee a number cause there’s risk involved in a project like this. But I can tell you that we’re managing those risks aggressively,” said Andrew Robbins, HART Chief Executive Officer.

The council voted 7-2. Council members Trevor Ozawa and Ann Kobayashi voted against the proposal. The third and final hearing on the bill is scheduled for October 30. 

HART points out that it doesn’t actually need that $44 million but the FTA is requiring it just in case the project runs into more delays and added costs.
 

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