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Thursday, August 28, 2008

More on the Cherriots Bond

Frequently Asked Questions About the Cherriots Proposed Tax Levy
Ballot Measure Number 24-247
November 2008

Why is Cherriots proposing this tax levy?

Rising fuel costs, increases in CherryLift use (a service required by federal law), and overall inflation have brought Cherriots to a point where next year Cherriots expenses will exceed revenues by over $3 million, if Cherriots provides the same level of service.

What new services would be funded?

In addition to maintaining the current number of service hours, current routes may be changed to increase efficiency. More buses will be added to overcrowded routes so that they can run more often. This change will give people more travel options while helping with overcrowding. Passage of the levy will allow Cherriots to provide citizens with approximately the same level of service that they had before the 2006 service cuts.

What will happen if the measure does not pass?

If the levy does not pass, Saturday service will be eliminated. In addition, 3 – 4 weekday routes may also be eliminated. The result of the elimination of service and program reductions will be the loss of 15 – 20 jobs.

What about Sunday Service?

Sunday service is not planned as a part of this levy. The cost to add Sunday service is very high. In addition to operating the buses, adding a day of service requires additional maintenance staff, supervisors, CherryLift expenses, and utility costs when the buildings are occupied. This makes Sunday service less productive than adding more buses to routes that are overcrowded during the week.

What’s a tax levy?

A tax levy is a temporary property tax providing revenue needed to operate services provided by local governments. A levy is different than a bond. Bonds are used to fund capital projects such as streets, or the construction of a new building. The maximum time allowed for a tax levy to be in place is five years. Cherriots is seeking a five year levy which will be used for operating costs.

Why didn’t it pass last time?

In May of 2006 the voters approved the levy. However, less than half of the registered voters in Marion and Polk counties voted causing the levy to fail under Oregon’s double majority law. In November of 2006 the levy was narrowly defeated by 1,197 votes out of 70,343 ballots turned in.

Why can’t Cherriots just raise fares to pay for extra costs?

In order to replace the revenue shortage of $3.2 million Cherriots would need to raise the fares by 143%. This would increase the price of the regular adult monthly pass from $35 to $85. When prices rise by this much people stop riding the bus and less revenue is received. This defeats the purpose of gaining more revenue by raising fares. Cherriots cannot maintain the current level of service without $3.2 million in new revenue.

Why are you building a station in Keizer if you need more money for basic routes?

Construction projects and bus purchases are made with funds that are not allowed to be used for operations. These are funded through federal and state grants specifically set aside for these types of projects. The transit center will also help improve service to residents and businesses while not needing to increase the number of buses and drivers. The center will allow Cherriots to provide more services to Keizer residents.

Will you raise the fares again if the tax doesn’t pass?

Fares will probably increase again sometime in the future. Current Board policy requires Cherriots to evaluate fares every two years. Under this policy a fare increase was approved in July of 2008 to address inflation.

Is Cherriots asking for the same amount as in 2006?

No, in both May and November of 2006 the amount requested was 60 cents per one thousand dollars of assessed property value. In this election Cherriots is proposing a rate of 49 cents per one thousand dollars of assessed property value.

What is meant by assessed value?

Oregon’s property tax limitation laws create a value that is lower than what a house would sell for that is used to determine how much property tax is collected from property owners. This is known as the assessed value. In the Salem-Keizer area the average assessed value is approximately 47% of the current amount a home would sell for in today’s market. What this means is a home selling for $275,000 would pay taxes based on approximately $130,000 assessed value. Under the proposed levy a home of this value would pay $5.31 per month.

How can I get involved in the election to get it passed, i.e. a yard sign, going door to door, contribute financially, etc.?

To be involved in the campaign please contact the campaign at
yesforcherriots@gmail.com or (503) 581-8384.

How can I get a ballot?

If you are a registered voter and have not moved since the last time you voted, a ballot will be mailed to your home.

Information on voter registration is available at:

Marion County Elections Office or call (503) 588-5041; and

Polk County Elections Office or call (503) 623-9217.




Urgent: Get behind YES on Cherriots

This is from Lloyd Chapman, recent mayoral candidate, who continues to selflessly work for the betterment of Salem:
Friends,

Though I think I am only now recovering from the May election, the party conventions are underway and the focus is now on November.

In addition to the presidential, senate, congressional and other elections on the ballot, Salem-Keizer Transit has a $30 million dollar five-year levy on the ballot. I have served on the Cherriots board for nearly nine years and I urge you to support the measure and especially to contribute to the campaign.

Unlike Portland and Eugene, which rely on a payroll tax, Cherriots is supported locally by property taxes. Our tax base was established in 1996 at an interim level, only to have subsequent ballot measures "lock it in".

I believe the district spends our money wisely and effectively. For five years now we have exceeded 5 mllion rides a year and have provided more than 127,000 Cherrylift rides to the disabled community in the last fiscal year. But in these difficult times we need to provide better and more frequent service.

This measure would be an important step in that direction. At a cost of 49 cents per thousand or $98 a year on a $200,000 house, the district will be able to maintain existing services, add frequency on well used routes and begin to build a small contingency fund (to deal with issues like rising fuel prices and increasing costs of our Cherrylift service for the disabled community).

We need funding for our campaign to be successful. We also need endorsements. A volunteer response is attached. As you know, there will be several other money measures on the ballot in November, so your help now is critical.

Send checks to Yes for Cherriots, PO Box 2774, Salem, OR 97308-2774. (Remember to include your occupation and employer on the check - we are required by state law to provide that information.)

The campaign email is yesforcherriots@gmail.com
.

Thanks for your help.

Lloyd Chapman
The info requested on the campaign volunteer form is below (note, also the contribution form!):
Yes For Cherriots Volunteer and Contribution Information

Please indicate how you can help keep Cherriots a vital part of our community.

___ Phone bank
___ Canvass
___ Contribution (check enclosed)
___ Letter to the editor
___ House Party
___ Lawn sign
___ Locate Lawn sign placements
___ Help or plan event
___ Raise money
___ Use my name in an endorsement
___ Pledge $_____ and send by October 1, 2008

Name:_____________________________________________(please print)

Address:___________________________________________

City: _______________ State___________ Zip: ____________

Phone: Day:______________ Evening: ____________________

Email:______________________________________________________
Check which e-mails you want:
___ updates ___events ___ campaign work alert

Information required by law [for contributors]:

Occupation ___________________________________________________
Employer’s Name and Address: ____________________________________________________________

Thank you for this vital community help.
Yes for Cherriots

You can email us at
yesforcherriots@gmail.com

Print form and send with your contribution to

Yes for Cherriots, PO Box 2774, Salem OR 97308-2774