March 25, 2010

DART: Reduced sales tax forecast prompts review

Lagging sales tax receipts, resulting in lower long-term revenue forecasts in the 13 member cities, are prompting Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) to review all expenses including operations, administration and future capital projects, officials said.

"The current projection for sales tax receipts in fiscal year 2010 will be between $15 and $20 million below our original estimate of $387.8 million," said DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas. "Combined with lower than anticipated sales tax receipts last year, and significantly reduced 20-year sales tax projections, we will have to evaluate all future expenses."

Updated 20-year sales tax projections provided by economist Ray Perryman show DART receiving approximately $3 billion less in sales tax income than the amount he projected as recently as May 2009. The revisions take into account not only the effect of the current economic downturn but, also, a comprehensive assessment of population and employment growth rates within the 13 member cities as compared to growth rates for the more rapidly growing emerging suburbs outside of the DART Service Area.

Thomas said the schedule for the planned bus purchase is not affected by the financial information. In addition, the DART Rail Green Line, and the Lake Highlands Station on the Blue Line, will open as scheduled in December 2010. The Blue Line extension from Garland to Rowlett will open as scheduled December 2012.

DART collected $378 million in sales taxes in fiscal 2009. The original sales tax projection for fiscal 2009 was $431 million and then revised downward to $385 million in May 2009.

To guide long-range planning DART develops 20-year financial and system plans. These two plans are reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors. Projects are not added to the system plan unless funding has been identified. The cost of designing, building, operating and maintaining the project is then included in the financial plan and divided according to the amounts needed in a specific year.

 

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