SMART sales tax revenue falls 13 percent short after year one

Full story: Marin Independent Journal

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit project will fall about 13 percent short of its sales tax goals at the end of its first full fiscal year of operation, officials disclosed Wednesday.
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21 - 34 of 34 Comments Last updated May 20, 2010
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SMART Observer

San Leandro, CA

#21 May 20, 2010
SMART continues the public deception. To what end, is hard to know.

o They have a $200 MM shortfall in construction funds, not $155 MM.

o That's over 1/3 of the project.

o Do the math. They'll be lucky to make it to Windsor.

o There is no money for a second segment

When northern Sonoma voters understand this, all hell is going to break out.

Lillian Hames should be fired.
Benjamin

San Francisco, CA

#23 May 20, 2010
Yes, it's behind schedule financially. However, once it's up and running -- still a matter of when, not if -- Marin and Sonoma residents will get exactly the system that more than two-thirds of voters wanted: a regional rail system that connects the downtowns of every major city north of Larkspur, a regional mode of transit that won't get stuck in highway traffic, and a seventy-four mile bicycle and pedestrian path along the entire corridor.

Ok, so we won't see it until 2015 or 2016. It's still going to be a fantastic system once it's up and running.
Marin local

Novato, CA

#22 May 20, 2010
Wow such train-HATE! What "is" the solution to grid-lock; More Trucks, Buses and cars? Any solutions? Anything? Well.......... Train it is.
SMART not so SMART

San Rafael, CA

#24 May 20, 2010
"Thirteen percent sounds like a lot, but it is not," said Erin McGrath, chief financial officer for SMART. "It's a blip over a 20-year period. It's a big 20-year picture."
Meanwhile, SMART wants to expand its staff from 10 to 14 next fiscal year by adding a grants coordinator, a clerk of the board, an executive assistant and an administrative assistant."

Apparantly, if Erin McGrath is indeed the CFO, she is flying the coop because SMART has this ad on their website. Check out the salary. Unbelievable for a small local transit agency. Our tax dollars at work!!

Job Opportunities
Director Finance and Administration/Chief Financial Officer The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District (SMART) seeks a financial professional to oversee district budget, accounting, sales tax forecasting, strategic planning and other financial and administrative activities. Requires high level experience and understanding of transportation and capital project finance and a strong working knowledge of California budget law. Transit agency related experience preferred. Salary:$110,000 -$160,000, DOQ.
Fed up with stupidity

San Jose, CA

#25 May 20, 2010
Benjamin wrote:
Yes, it's behind schedule financially. However, once it's up and running -- still a matter of when, not if -- Marin and Sonoma residents will get exactly the system that more than two-thirds of voters wanted: a regional rail system that connects the downtowns of every major city north of Larkspur, a regional mode of transit that won't get stuck in highway traffic, and a seventy-four mile bicycle and pedestrian path along the entire corridor.
Ok, so we won't see it until 2015 or 2016. It's still going to be a fantastic system once it's up and running.
Please get your facts straight. The 2/3's majority that wanted this boondoggle live in SONOMA as they're the ones that stand to benefit. Marin did NOT give 2/3's approval. The fact that both groups were lumped together and the number of voters in Sonoma is greater than in Marin is the ONLY way this fiasco could pass. Marin gains NOTHING from this, but we all get to pay. Revenues are less than plan, expenses are way over budget and that's just the start... This is a fantastic MESS.
SMART not so SMART

San Rafael, CA

#26 May 20, 2010
Benjamin wrote:
Yes, it's behind schedule financially. However, once it's up and running -- still a matter of when, not if -- Marin and Sonoma residents will get exactly the system that more than two-thirds of voters wanted: a regional rail system that connects the downtowns of every major city north of Larkspur, a regional mode of transit that won't get stuck in highway traffic, and a seventy-four mile bicycle and pedestrian path along the entire corridor.
Ok, so we won't see it until 2015 or 2016. It's still going to be a fantastic system once it's up and running.
Please get a dose of SMART reality. This train will carry a small number of passengers from Sonoma to Marin during commute hours because, it will NOT go to San Francisco and it will NOT go the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. It stops short of the terminal so then you have to walk across SFD to catch the Ferry. In terms of what people will do to commute, that is one step to many - parking your car at the train stop in Sonoma or Marin, waiting for train to come, boarding train, getting off train, walking across to catch ferry, travel 30 minutes on ferry to SF, catch Muni uptown to your office....2 hours wasted commuting when you can drive in about 30-40 minutes. SMART is being built as a Wine Train to get visitors/tourists coming off the Ferry up to the casinos and wineries in Sonoma. It's a wine train, not a commuter rail.
SMART Observer

San Leandro, CA

#27 May 20, 2010
Maybe if rail supporters stopped lying, those of us who recognized this boondoggle for what it was, it would help cool things down.

As indicated by the SMART Board, these politicians are going to continue to stick their head in the sand and believe pigs can fly.

Come this fall, even this idiot Board will have to come clean.

At that point, we can circulate petitions to repeal the sales tax. 14,000 signatures will put it on the ballot. It can be repealed with a 50%+ 1 vote to repeal.

Since: Mar 10

Got sick driving road to Hana

#28 May 20, 2010
Batman wrote:
You have heard of the ship of fools?
Well this is the train of idiots
And quicky becoming a train wreck
"Thirteen percent sounds like a lot, but it is not," said Erin McGrath, chief financial officer for SMART. "It's a blip over a 20-year period. It's a big 20-year picture."
She assumes the drop off in revenue is a one year aberation
We are in a recession/depression
We have been for several years
If you don't believe that then stop listening to the Wall Street shills and talking heads on MSM
The Fed policy of zero interest to bail out Wall Street has eroded peoples incomes and spending ability
Businesses are closing up and leaving particularly high sales tax places like car dealerships
These are not coming back
I have no idea why you don't know that Wall Street will not bail out SMART. I live in a train free zone, we don't care what you do with your Sonoma Commute Train. Marin is a lot more than you see from the highway 101. I advoid the state route like the plague. I can stay in Mill Valley proper and sip lattes and be away from all that diesel fumes and those thin shared wall condo boxes that you live in.

Since: Oct 08

Location hidden

#29 May 20, 2010
Benjamin wrote:
Yes, it's behind schedule financially. However, once it's up and running -- still a matter of when, not if -- Marin and Sonoma residents will get exactly the system that more than two-thirds of voters wanted: a regional rail system that connects the downtowns of every major city north of Larkspur, a regional mode of transit that won't get stuck in highway traffic, and a seventy-four mile bicycle and pedestrian path along the entire corridor.
Ok, so we won't see it until 2015 or 2016. It's still going to be a fantastic system once it's up and running.
Since you believe this will come to pass I think you're target should be 2095 or 2096. Unfortunately when they come back to the taxpayers for more money the answer will be NO.
Common Progressive

San Rafael, CA

#30 May 20, 2010
A 12% shortfall in taxes of their STATED revenue needs. This is something like 50% shortfall of Smart STUPID trains REAL revenue needs.

When has any government project been on time and on budget? Ask taxpayers in Boston about the "Big DIG" . After spending $14.6 billion (up from an initial forecast of about $4 billion in today's dollars) it is still not done. The project was started in 1987 and still has "repairs underway".

The simple fact is the economics of this rail line will not work with the population densities and transportation requirements of the cities. Even today, Marin has scores of buses traveling around with no one on board.

Fools like Susan Adams continue to support this idiocy. Vote for Mazzoni. It is the only chance for good government we have.
The Independent Journal

San Rafael, CA

#31 May 20, 2010
Voter wrote:
<quoted text> I will pay any tax they want for this great train. Yes i would vote for a 5 % increase for twenty more years so they can catch up and have their funds. This train is going to be special for all Marin and Sonoma. PLEASE VOTE MORE TAXES TO HELP THEM OUT !!!!
How right on you are ! We at the IJ say this a great train!, and a gravy train too !
Even though it is nothing but a HUGE MONEY SUCK, it is creating jobs for us at the IJ , and that is important to us. Since we have gone bankrupt, your tax dollars have kept us afloat in these hard times. With all the paid propaganda that you paid for in articles endorsing SMART, we are able to stay in business. Thank you to all you suckers in Sonoma County for approving SMART.

And to all you losers who claim that the world economy is in the toilet, YOU'RE WRONG !
The private medical insurance and pharmaceutical corporations are doing quite well, we have people earning over $30 million per year now, and we profited billions of dollars off of the H1N1 hoax. We still have 70 million uneeded H1N1 flu doses left over that we can't dump, but SO WHAT ? We made bilions !
Why some people concern themselves with the SMART train is beyond us, we know it will never happen, but SMART is a great cash cow for us and many other people who have made our careers out of the scam. The Sonoma Commute Train Tax will go on as long as the stupid people let it, and it will fund our great, great grandchildren's work free lives. Who cares if the people never get a train, at least some of us will be living the high life in a train free zone.
SMART Is Dumb

Berkeley, CA

#32 May 20, 2010
Incredible. It doesn't take a genius that people's income taxes, and other types of taxes, are eventually going to have to go up to pay down the national & state deficits. Once this happens discretionary spending will likely go down reducing sales tax revenues. Thinking about raising the sales tax higher? People are going to just spend less, food first (non-taxed), electicity and gas second, taxable items somewhere down the line or more online shopping. Once inflation kicks in, the Fed will have to increase the interest rates to stem inflation. Again, the cost of money goes up and reducing discretionaring spending. People will be just trying to reduce their debt load to avoid paying outlandish interest.

Kill this thing now.
SMART Observer

San Leandro, CA

#33 May 20, 2010
Lillian Hames to the SMART Board (Jan 21st, 2010):

"To date, we have not found any [funding] source that will allow us to complete the [rail and bike] project in 2014"

Hmmm. Nothing has changed in 5 months. So, why keep up the charade?

Since: Oct 08

Location hidden

#34 May 20, 2010
SMART Observer wrote:
Lillian Hames to the SMART Board (Jan 21st, 2010):
"To date, we have not found any [funding] source that will allow us to complete the [rail and bike] project in 2014"
Hmmm. Nothing has changed in 5 months. So, why keep up the charade?
Or 2015, or 2016, or 2017, or 2018, or ...

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