Public Hearings on Hennepin Cty Transit/Bike/Walk Funding

Hennepin County is hosting critical meetings March 20 and 21 about the potential of a new 1/2-cent sales tax to fund transportation projects in the County. Please come and share your support for new funding for biking, walking, and transit. 

Public hearing:

Tuesday, March 21, at 1:30 p.m. in the Board Room (A-2400) of the Hennepin County Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis.

Open house:

Monday, March 20 from 5-7pm at Hennepin County Minneapolis Central Library, Doty Board Room, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis

Contact Your County Commissioner:

Please email your Commissioner in support of increased sales tax for transit, biking, and walking funding. It's important to note that it is not yet clear if any funding is planned for biking and walking. We are glad to see this proposal, but think it should include (either directly or through other sources) increased funding for biking and walking as well as important investments in transit. (Find your Commissioner here.) Minneapolis Commissioners are:

The Coalition's position

The Coalition supports an increase in the metro area sales tax to fund transit, biking, and walking projects in the region as part of a state transportation funding bill. We think it's important that dedicated biking, walking, and local bus funding be included in any new transportation funding package. We recognize that since the Legislature has not passed a transportation funding bill, it's important for Hennepin County to pursue maximizing their local resources for transportation. We support dedicating that to transit, biking, and walking needs. We do think that the County needs to increase funding for biking and walking projects. 

County funding for biking and walking currently

The County currently provides $600,000 a year to support bikeways. This is far short of the $2.5 million per year need (plus $2.5 million additional local match) identified in its 2040 bike plan. A proposal to increase funding to $1 million per year was disappointingly not approved this past year.

The County currently provides $200,000 a year to support improved sidewalks on County Roads (requiring a 75% local match) and $300,000 for walking/ADA improvements along streets getting repaved. We are not aware of any other proactive County funding to address walking safety or access for people with disabilities on County Roads as needs identified within the County's ADA Transition Plan.

This $1.1 million annually for walking and biking is out of the County's $146.4 million budget for roads and bridges in 2017. Some bicycle, walking, and ADA improvements are included as part of many of the road projects, but that is 0.75% of road/bridge funding going to proactive biking and walking improvements. The County also budgets $1 million (through State funds) for ADA pedestrian ramp improvements.  

Here is additional background related to the sales tax for transit (from Commissioner Marion Greene's office)

The Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB) formed in 2008 to focus on regional transit in the metropolitan area. Since April 2008, five counties – Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington – have utilized a quarter-cent sales tax and $20 a motor vehicle sales tax, permitted by the Legislature, to invest in and advance transit projects by awarding annual capital and operating grants. CTIB works in collaboration with the Metropolitan Council and Carver and Scott counties. Part of CTIB’s founding was grounded in the state legislature providing ten percent of the capital funding for transit projects.

This formula has successfully funded transit projects over the course of the last nine years, but the current political landscape at the State Capitol is changing the trajectory of what can be accomplished. 

To move towards the goal of regional transit in the absence of state funds, one path CTIB member counties are considering is dissolution:

  • Dissolving CTIB will effectively end the five county, quarter-cent tax
  • In order to ensure funding for existing projects, and possibly future projects, each former member of CTIB may enact and individually manage a sales tax of up to one-half percent, to be appropriated for approved transportation infrastructure (statute)

MinnPost offers more details on this potential move as well.

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