Legislators representing Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties on Tuesday unveiled the Regional Transit and Jobs Investment Act.
The proposal, developed by a coalition of area legislators with Gov. Jim Doyle, allows local governments to choose to make mass transit service improvements and creates a pathway to additional regional transit cooperation and connectivity. The bill integrates the KRM commuter rail line with other mass transit and continues the car rental fee for the project.
According to a press release from the office of Sen. John Lehman, major employers in southwestern Wisconsin are supporting the bill and projections of the impact of transit investments such as the KRM rail line indicate thousands of jobs, and more than $500 million in economic activity could result.
Among the highlights of the bill are provisions:
• Authorizing creation of an Interim Regional Transit Authority in Milwaukee County funded by a 0.5% sales tax approved by county voters in November 2008;
• Allowing local governments in Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee to vote to form their own IRTAs;
• Allowing a non-Milwaukee County IRTA, with the agreement of all the creating municipal governments, to fund transit using a vehicle registration fee, the property tax or hotel tax revenue. A local sales tax could be used only if it is voted on and approved by the governing bodies of each community forming an IRTA, the newly created IRTA board approves its use and the voters within the IRTA approve the use of the sales tax for transit in a referendum;
• Requiring 100 percent of local transit costs to be removed from the property tax if a sales tax is used as the funding mechanism;
• Providing a mechanism for local IRTAs to receive additional state incentive money for mass transit;
• Regionalizing mass transit service when three IRTAs meet expanded service and increased monetary targets by placing their services under the umbrella of a regional Southeast Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority (SERTA);
• Integrating the proposed KRM commuter rail line with local bus service through SERTA.
The bill also gives a boost to the application for federal aid for construction of the KRM commuter rail line, the release said.
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