LEXINGTON, KY -- LexTran officials say they don't want to sound like alarmists by trotting out the dreaded words ”tax increase,“ but in a couple of years they could be asking taxpayers to dip into their wallets once again to help keep the local bus system afloat, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Saturday edition.
”It's not a foregone conclusion that that's where we'll end up,“ LexTran board member Ann Render said. But, she said, ”I think we'll have to look at it. ... You never close the door to any option.“
In short, in a couple of years or so, LexTran will not be able to continue offering its current level of services without a boost in funding, officials of the bus system told the Herald-Leader.
Four years ago, Lexington residents voted 53 percent to 47 percent in favor of a tax levy of 6 cents per $100 of assessed property value to fund LexTran. The tax is expected to generate more than $15 million this fiscal year.
When the property tax was instituted, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government discontinued giving LexTran a yearly subsidy of several million dollars, reports the newspaper.
After the new tax money started rolling in, LexTran restored services that were cut before the referendum and added services.
But fuel prices have gone up faster and higher than LexTran leaders anticipated. And more people are turning to LexTran because they can no longer afford to gas up their own vehicles, the newspaper reports.
The property tax money makes up 79 percent of the revenue in LexTran's operating budget, LexTran officials said.
LexTran general manager Rocky Burke said that bus fares could be raised, but if they go up too much, people will stop riding.
Fares make up only seven percent of the revenue in LexTran's operating budget, reports The Lexington Herald-Leader.
Copyright-The Lexington Herald-Leader.