Should sales tax increase? Yes: Our economy will benefit

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Proposition No. 1

Resolution BR-12-009 and RCW 81.104 authorize a proposition to increase the sales and use tax by 0.1 percent, or one penny on a $10 purchase, to fund the C-Tran share of the maintenance and operations costs only of the Columbia River Crossing Project light rail extension between Expo Center and Clark Park & Ride and the local capital share and operations and maintenance costs of the Fourth Plain Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit project.

Should this proposition be:

• APPROVED

• REJECTED

On Nov. 6, voters in the C-Tran service district will be asked to support major improvements to our transportation infrastructure by adding one penny to every $10 taxable purchase. As local business owners who are sensitive to sales tax increases, we believe the investments are worth it and encourage you to join us in voting to approve C-Tran's Proposition 1.

Proposition 1 provides for construction and operation costs of a new Bus Rapid Transit system along the Fourth Plain corridor and operations and maintenance costs to the light rail extension that will cross the new Interstate 5 bridge and continue on to Clark College. Proposition 1 will provide both more efficient bus service on the busiest C-Tran route and provide connection to more than 55 miles of light rail with no capital investment.

BRT will better serve those who live, work, shop, or travel along the Fourth Plain corridor by improving the speed and reliability of transit. This will not only directly benefit the residents and businesses along the corridor, but will invigorate our entire local economy.

A relatively small local investment will leverage up to $38 million of federal funds that will come into our community and enhance our economy. The investment will lead to a more efficient and effective transit system and will support the Fourth Plain Redevelopment Plan by including safety and streetscape improvements, improving traffic flow, and creating a more attractive business environment along the corridor.

BRT will also help to leverage private-sector dollars to expand the market demand in the corridor. The Fourth Plain Merchants Association helped develop the corridor's plan and participated in the advisory process. The improved reliability and attractiveness of the stations will mean more appealing opportunities for commuters to stop along the way and do business on Fourth Plain and encourage even more investment in the area in the long run.

Studies have shown that investments in high-quality public transit, such as BRT, increase property values so business and property owners will benefit from Proposition 1.

That is why we support this project, and why more and more cities across the country are turning to BRT to improve their communities.

Proposition 1 also asks Clark County residents to pay for maintenance and operation of the light rail extension (roughly $2.5 million per year). As part of the Columbia River Crossing project, the state and federal dollars will pay for the capital costs.

Light rail would allow a reliable option for more than 60,000 commuters. Even if you don't ride light rail you will benefit from this proposition as it leaves more highway capacity for freight and leverages federal resources that would otherwise be unavailable for the construction of the new bridge and interchanges.

These transportation improvements have other benefits to our local businesses as well. Having multiple transportation options helps draw new companies, employees, and customers. For these reasons and more we believe that one additional penny on a $10 purchase is a sound investment.

Please vote yes on Proposition 1.

Leah Jackson is owner of Niche Wine Bar and Angst Art Gallery in Vancouver. Mark Maggiora is executive director of Americans Building Community in Vancouver. This op-ed was first published in the Vancouver Business Journal.