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TriMet board to consider increasing payroll tax

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: CHASE ALLGOOD  - TriMet could use part of the proposed payroll tax increase to help fund community shuttle bus operations, like GroveLink that is currently operating in Forest Grove.The TriMet Board of Directors will consider raising the payroll tax to fund expanded transit service at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

The board is scheduled to hold the first hearing and take public testimony on a proposal to increase the payroll tax 1/10th of 1 percent over 10 years.

According to TriMet, if approved, the median company in the agency's service zone would see its tax increase by slightly more than $8 a month and by about $82 a year by the end of the decade, not counting inflation.

TriMet says the additional revenue will be dedicated to new and expanded bus, rail and innovative community and job connector services, like the GroveLink shuttle system that is currently operating in Forest Grove. The options are included in the agency's new Service Enhancement Plans that have been developed with stakeholders in five service sectors: Westside, Southwest, Eastside, North/Central and Southeast.

The 2009 Oregon Legislature gave TriMet the authority to increase the payroll tax, which is currently at 0.7237 percent. TriMet waited until it had resolved its contract dispute with Amalgamated Transit Union 757 and the Great Recession had ended ended before proceeding, however.

The board is set to vote on the increase at its Sept. 16 meeting. If approved, it will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

The proposal calls for a review of the revenues after the first five years. If they materially exceed the annual amounts necessary to expand service and maintain sufficient financial reserves, the board may defer the payroll tax increase for any subsequent year.

For a previous Portland Tribune story on the proposal, visit cni.pmgnews.com/ht/117-hillsboro-tribune-news/266948-138668-trimet-moves-to-raise-payroll-tax-to-expand-regional-service