Ken Larsen's web site - March 7, 2017 DOLRT speech to BOCC by Neal Bench


My name is Neal Bench.  Iím a Chapel Hill resident.


First Iíd like to say that Iím really impressed with all the research and information that all the previous speakers have given.  I think thereís some really good information in there to take hold of.


I just have a couple of questions that Iíll ask of you guys, but Iíll answer them.  [Audience laughter]


1.) At the present time, can the County meet all of its needs?  Of course, the answer is no.  You just had a bond referendum.  $ 120 million for schools and that didnít even meet half of the estimated school needs.


2.) Is there a plan to meet those needs?  Thatís a question I donít have an answer for.  We have park needs.  We have senior needs.  We have affordable housing needs.  Finances are tough to come by.  There is no question about that.


I voted for the transit tax.  I ride transit, but I must admit that my hope in voting for that transit tax ... knowing that part of it would go to rail, but the hope is that there would be a significant improvement in bus service.  With rail ... as Iíve heard ... taking upwards of 93% of that tax ... in that range.  That doesnít leave much money for significant improvements in buses.  Certainly there will be some improvements but nothing that would really be overly noticeable.


The construction cost of DOLRT is a big number, $ 2.5B.  There is no question about that.  Odds are that either the DOLRT project will cost more than that  .. Or, less than what is currently stated will be built ... if the $ 2.5B target is met.  But, thatís just a guess.


3.) The big question of the day is ďAre the operating cost estimates certain?Ē  The answer is obviously no.  Forecasts are only one thing.  They're wrong at all times.  You hope your revenue estimates are low.  You hope your cost estimates are high, but weíve seen otherwise many times. 


4.) If the operating costs (not the construction costs) exceed whatís available in the transit tax revenues, who picks up that extra?  Itís the county or local.  I donít see the state jumping in to help.


If we canít currently meet the needs of our residents in Orange County, and the transit starts eating into our current revenues, Iíd say the needs will be much harder to meet.


I would really like to see this DOLRT project discontinued at the present time and move on to more effective flexible transit possibilities.


Thank you.



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