Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris makes changes to his plan to fund MATA

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris is making changes to his plan to get $10 million in funding for MATA.

Since presenting his plan back in September, Harris has gotten backlash for his proposal to charge a registration fee of $145 for each vehicle, if a household owns three of more.

After getting feedback, Harris now says there would be one $145 sustainability fee per each household with three or more vehicles. He says motorcycles, antique cars, trailers, and boats are not affected.

Harris’ office says it still expects to get the $10 million yearly to support MATA even with the proposed changes.

(SHELBY COUNTY MAYOR’S OFFICE NEWS RELEASE) – Since presenting his plan for $10 million yearly investment in public transit to the Shelby County Commission, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris has engaged citizens in town halls, public forums, and hosted numerous meetings with stakeholder groups. In response to community feedback, the revised plan will be one yearly $145 sustainability fee to households with three or more cars. In addition, alternative vehicles such as motorcycles, antique cars, trailers, and boats will not be assessed the sustainability fee.

“We have been pleased by the willingness of residents to engage in a conversation about how public transit could help lift thousands out of poverty and preserve our shared environment,” says Mayor Harris. “We have had many great suggestions from residents, including tailoring the plan to have an even more narrow impact. The plan to raise $10 million for transit will still impact 17% of households, but now those households will face a max of $145 more a year whether they own three cars or ten cars.”

These tweaks to the plan do not change the projected $10 million impact. 

“The investment would still have zero impact on most families,” says Mayor Harris. “This plan does not call for a broad tax or fee on all citizens. A sustainability fee on third vehicles will not affect 83% of residents. Furthermore, the idea is to try as best we can to tie the solution to the problem. We know that traffic congestion and car emissions are problems that will only get worse. We believe that households or businesses with three cars are using that infrastructure more and producing more wear and tear. Our proposal focuses on the problem of cars on the road while supporting a solution to congestion and emissions, public transit.”

The proposal would have a big impact on transit. A dedicated investment of at least $10 million has an economic impact of more than $40 million as a result of expanded job access and reduced car crashes. 

This plan would have a big impact on poverty. According to data from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce, there are more than 17,000 available jobs in Shelby County. More frequent transit service helps people get a job and keep a job.

The investment would have a big impact on our shared environment. It would increase ridership by at least one million rides, therefore reducing emissions by thousands of metric tons.

“Everyone has to play a role in trying to preserve our shared environment, even local elected officials,” says Mayor Harris. “We will all enjoy the benefits of clean air, reduced congestion, and a reduction in poverty. This sustainable investment in transit helps achieve all those objectives.”

The administration is seeking a Commission vote on an investment in transit and a transit plan by February 2020. To see the updated proposal, go to https://www.future4transit.com/.

©TEGNA Inc. 2019. All Rights Reserved.

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