AG's ruling on homestead exemption fogs CATS tax
More questions than answers surround Wednesday's state attorney general opinion that the homestead exemption will apply after all to the recently passed CATS tax. Among them: How does the CATS board plan to make up for the shortfall that will occur as a result of factoring the homestead exemption into the 10.6-mill property tax increase? For that matter, how much will the shortfall actually be? Advocates of the tax, who campaigned for it in the special election last month, said at the time if the tax didn't pass, the transit agency faced a possible summer shutdown. Now that the tax will generate millions less than planned, how will daily operations be affected? Moreover, what does it mean for the massive overhaul of the system that voters were promised? For now, all CATS officials can say is that they're trying to assess what the decision will mean. "I think we're still trying to analyze the numbers and what the real impact will be," says CATS CEO Brian Marshall. "But we're committed to making some changes." As to the issue of whether voters were misled by the promises made in a hastily called tax election, the head of the Blue Ribbon Commission that campaigned for the tax says nonsense. "I cannot control the reaction of those who see a conspiracy behind every tree," says Rev. Raymond Jetson. "But rational thinkers will recognize there was no advantage to be gained by adding the absence of a homestead exemption to this initiative. That makes no sense." —Stephanie Riegel
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