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City broke...but plenty of money to fund $427,000 in ORCA cards.

by fredo
on 2/29/2012 @ 9:10am
Councilmember David Boe questioned the expense but apparently most of the council is OK with a plan to furnish free ORCA cards and vanpool arrangements for over 1000 city employees. Forget that these people already have good paying jobs and could/should arrange their own transportation. Unneccessary spending is so endemic to the way Tacoma city government works that this use of scarce city funds isn't really even seriously challenged. The culture of waste fraud and abuse is alive and well at city hall.

by Non Sequitur on 2/29/2012 @ 2:19pm
My employer has a strict policy involving getting to work:

"I don't care how you do it, but you damn well better be here at eight"

by fredo on 2/29/2012 @ 2:55pm

Same here.

by Non Sequitur on 2/29/2012 @ 2:59pm
I thought you were self-employed.

by Jesse on 2/29/2012 @ 3:16pm
Were the orca cards part of compensation packages? If so, they are owed to the employees.

by tacoma1 on 2/29/2012 @ 3:36pm
Orca cards are cheaper than parking lots. Also, it seemed to me (but I could be wrong) that Boe was questioning the extra cost of the van pools over the $28/mo cost of an Orca card, not the orca card itself.

As someone who's employer doesn't supply an orca card, I end up paying full price for mine. $28 is a definite bargaIn.

by fredo on 2/29/2012 @ 3:57pm

The issue I raised wasn't the utility of the ORCA cards, but rather the taxpayer's roll in furnishing them. Pretty sure any city employee who wants and ORCA card can go buy one just like anybody else does.  The cards are an $800,000+ biennial expense for a city running a multimillion dollar deficit. 

by cisserosmiley on 2/29/2012 @ 4:04pm
Stop the insanity

by fredo on 2/29/2012 @ 6:05pm
 "I thought you were self-employed."

Yep but i've spent years working for other people as well. Not one employer ever asked if he could help me get to work, nor did ever occur to me that he might be responsible for getting me to work. As an employer, no employee has ever asked me for a bus pass nor did I ever consider providing one. That's pretty much the way the world works. 

by tacoma1 on 2/29/2012 @ 6:48pm
I just watch the Council Meeting online. At $28/year/card, that is too cheap to pass up. The expensive part of the cities commute trip reduction program is the van pools at $80 to $150/rider per mo.

If you care about the budget, instead or your typical mindless anti-transit rants, complain about the van pools.

by fredo on 2/29/2012 @ 6:53pm

I'm not opposed to van pools or ORCA cards. I'm only opposed to requiring the tax payers to provide them. If you want a job that requires a commute then arrange it yourself.

by tacoma1 on 2/29/2012 @ 7:51pm
Based on the Council Meeting, the card only costs $28/year, and the employee can use the card to commute between home and work only. If I was a city employee, I would want to pay the $28 myself, and then be able to use it 7 days a week including to and from Crown Bar.

by fredo on 2/29/2012 @ 8:01pm

According to exit133 the city pays 28.43 per month per card not per year. 

by tacoma1 on 2/29/2012 @ 8:32pm
I watched the video and it was stated as per year.

It may be hard to believe, but some things u read on blogs are wrong.

Whether per year or per mo it's cheap. A mo pass is $72/mo retail.

by Non Sequitur on 2/29/2012 @ 8:32pm
If that $28.43 is in their benefit package, why are we complaining?
Did you know the city of Tacoma pays literally HUNDREDS of dollars per month per employee for health insurance and retirement? HUNDREDS!!!

Those thieving bastards!

by fredo on 2/29/2012 @ 9:04pm
If the cost of the transportation for the 1000 affected employees is $427,000 then the avg. cost per employee is $427 per year. Doubt if the passes are $28 per year.

Part of the benefits package?

I can't say. Maybe Marty or Anders can weigh in. If the van pool is part of the benefits package then why was Boe disputing the cost? The cost would be irrelevant.

by low bar on 2/29/2012 @ 10:17pm
Like I said. Everything is Scotland is free and they're still alive

by Urban E on 3/1/2012 @ 8:21am

The thing that bothers me about the Carpool perk is that it's provided to people who live outside of the city limits in places like Graham and Purdy. When you're supposed to live in the city limits when you get hired.

by fredo on 3/1/2012 @ 9:24am
yep Urban E. you've hit the nail on it's proverbial head.

Why should Tacomans, many of whom can barely keep food on the table, be required to furnish transportation to a bunch of overpaid suburban boobs?

The van pool/ORCA arrangement is supposed to promote green living and sustainability but of course living a long way from work (becoming a commuter) is neither green nor sustainable. What the city council is doing is really encouraging people to move as far away from the city as possible and encourage suburban sprawl.  The program is in direct conflict with the goals of the growth management act.

by tacoma1 on 3/1/2012 @ 1:35pm
I'm all for the orca program but I don't see how our city benefits from the van pools. I'd like to see that portion of the commute trip reduction program axed.

I also see no point in limiting the use of the orca card usage for work purposes only. Let the city employees use the orca cards 7 days a week.

by fredo on 3/1/2012 @ 1:53pm

tacoma1 why doesn't the city council just provide ORCA cards to everyone in town 7 days a week? If it's such a good program why not expand it to include everyone?

by tacoma1 on 3/1/2012 @ 1:58pm
The free orca card program is part of the city's commute trip reduction program for city employees.

by fredo on 3/1/2012 @ 2:05pm

You mean they are prohibited from altering the program to include the citizens too? Why don't they just call it the Tacoma City Commute Reduction Program for City Employees and other Similar Commuters? If the city benefits from a reduction in commutes then expanding the program would provide an even greater benefit, wouldn't it? 

by tacoma1 on 3/1/2012 @ 2:15pm
Your nonsensical rabbit holes with no end in sight are annoying and a total waste of time.

by fredo on 3/1/2012 @ 2:26pm

People who can't defend their postions frequently resort to their old standby...the ad hominem attack. And Mr. tacoma1, you've just reproven it. 

by Non Sequitur on 3/1/2012 @ 2:53pm
"People who can't defend their postions frequently resort to their old standby...the ad hominem attack"

The Pot calling the Kettle back.

by tacoma1 on 3/1/2012 @ 2:54pm
I stated that I am in favor of the Orca card portion of the city's commute trip reduction program.

I have no interest in defending your suggestion that it be opened to every one in the city. That was your suggestion. You defend it if you wish, but it sounds like a dumb idea to me.

by fredo on 3/1/2012 @ 3:01pm

The city is millions of dollars over budget. What sense does it make to make reductions to safety and infrastructural maintenance and fund something like this that the city workers could/should pay for themselves? They are the principle beneficiaries. This is a million dollars every biennium going right down the "rabbit hole." Again, tacoma1, I'm not suggesting that riding transit is a bad idea, I'm only debating the wisdom of requiring the stakeholders in Tacoma to fund the passes.  

by tacoma1 on 3/1/2012 @ 3:16pm
Again, you attack the transit portion of the CTR program, and leave out the most expensive portion of it, the van pools.

by fredo on 3/1/2012 @ 3:30pm

I never saw the breakdown in expenses between the ORCA and the van pools. I'm happy to review that. Again I don't oppose the use of transit or van pools by workers. My concern is that the city is providing funding to a low priority item in an era of city cutbacks. Remember, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

by Non Sequitur on 3/1/2012 @ 6:19pm
I somehow doubt the road to heaven is paved with asshattery.

by low bar on 3/1/2012 @ 10:26pm
or is it?

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 3/2/2012 @ 7:29am
I'm inclined to believe this is just a city subsidy to Pierce Transit.  I really can not believe that 1000 city employees will be riding Pierce Transit to work.  The service has gotten really terrible and to the point of being absolutely unreliable.  Think of this program as throwing a bone to the beleaguered Pierce Transit.  I suspect most of the city employees will be giving the ORCA cards to their family members or possibly selling them at a tidy profit to friends and neighbors. 

by cisserosmiley on 3/2/2012 @ 8:07am
I absolutely agree this is just a subsidy. It's time for Tacoma and Tacomanians (ya Fredo "tacoman" is a gender biased label please stop using it) to change tactics. WE do not need to change our values, just morph how we exercise them. Symbolic transit passed are old fashioned...

by fredo on 3/2/2012 @ 8:08am

crenshaw and fredo in agreement. happy day

by fredo on 3/2/2012 @ 8:13am

sorry, I meant tacomanian

by cisserosmiley on 3/2/2012 @ 8:18am
Thanks, I am considering an official change of name campaign. I do not want to offend historic purests, but Taco-MAN is just less pure than Tacoma-nian.

by boearc on 3/2/2012 @ 10:04am

Hey, lets get the facts straight Tacomanites.  The ORCA Card is part of a larger commute trip reduction plan and covers all of the
City of Tacoma - including TPU.  The budget 'hit' to the general fund is only a portion of the total - approximately 120k (from memory).  The question I asked of staff is since the program allows employers to charge their employee 50% of the card cost to help reduce the impact to their budget, is Tacoma considering a similar program (maybe not 50% but a percentage that is meaningful - 25% perhaps).  I also think that if an employee has some percentage into the program (skin into the game so to speak), they are much more likely to use it and therefore reduce more single occupancy vehicle trips (which is the whole frickin point of the program).  It is a great program - but lets not pay 100% for cards that sit in a desk and are not used.

by cisserosmiley on 3/2/2012 @ 10:08am
So we are "WASHINGTONIANITES" ????????????????????????????
Nice try council-MEMBER Boe
I will thank all in advance to stop being petty about tacomanians' history...

by fredo on 3/2/2012 @ 10:26am
Dave Boe, thanks for the comment.  

All this begs the question: Should a city which is millions of dollars over budget be required to participate in a "commute reduction plan" which costs hundreds of thousands of scarce tax dollars per year? How about if we just encourage people to use public transportation and to organize van pools when appropriate and leave the taxpayers out of it? Is the "commute reduction plan" really a PRIORITY item?

by L.S.Erhardt on 3/2/2012 @ 10:33am
Does it really matter?

Fire Jack Wilson and you'll fund that entire program.

by fredo on 3/2/2012 @ 10:36am

  "Does it really matter?"

If it didn't matter I wouldn't have launched the discussion. How many taxpayers in Tacoma are barely getting by and could benefit from a tax cut? 

by cisserosmiley on 3/2/2012 @ 10:47am
How is it statistically congruent that in a country where 50% of citizens are women, the TOP 5 metro parks leadership positions are held by men? I agree with the gender biased jack Wilson and put some balance in metro parks leadership - oh ya orca cards maybe not working perfectly

by fredo on 3/2/2012 @ 10:49am

What does Metro Parks have to do with the ORCA cards?

by tacoma1 on 3/2/2012 @ 11:58am
I think David Boe is making some sense (on this topic at least).

I also like his appropriate use of the word "frickin" for added emphasis.

by fredo on 3/2/2012 @ 12:13pm

Boe makes sense, but there's still no explanation for why a broke city even feels a remote obligation to be providing transportation for the employees.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 3/2/2012 @ 12:39pm
perhaps if all those employees take the bus and not park downtown they'll make money by selling the spaces to people that want to park in the prime spots downtown.

by L.S.Erhardt on 3/2/2012 @ 12:48pm
Jack Wilson is paid more than the Governor.
That is why I keep mentioning it. The executive director of metro parks doesn't need a six-figure salary and $500/month car allowance.

Lets cut fat from the top first. You know, "trickle down" economics.

by thriceallamerican on 3/2/2012 @ 1:30pm
Ok, I don't really want to start getting notifications for this thread because it's "one of those", but it seems worth pointing out that commute trip reduction is a legal obligation of the city (and I believe any employer with 100+ employees), per state law. Google away if you want to find the pertinent RCW clauses. Point being, there is going to be investment in it regardless, and it's not a question of whether the city "feels" it has an obligation.

by Maria on 3/2/2012 @ 2:09pm
Boe: "The question I asked of staff is since the program allows employers to
charge their employee 50% of the card cost to help reduce the impact to
their budget, is Tacoma considering a similar program (maybe not 50% but
a percentage that is meaningful - 25% perhaps).  I also think that if
an employee has some percentage into the program (skin into the game so
to speak), they are much more likely to use it and therefore reduce more
single occupancy vehicle trips (which is the whole frickin point of the
program).  It is a great program - but lets not pay 100% for cards that
sit in a desk and are not used."

That's smart.

Fredo, a vehicle reduction program is an investment. The city wouldn't have (hopefully) embarked on this program say it were a lunchtime cupcake subsidy, or a pedicure benefit for parking enforcement officers in summer.

How does this save the city money in the long run?

Less vehicles = less pollution in the city. This is a continual problem with most urban areas. Cars waiting at stoplights & being used for short trips contribute to smog. (There's a multitude of federal air quality regulations that both the city and county have to deal with, I'm not going to bother looking them up.)

Less vehicles = less parking lots. (No need to explain this benefit and the high cost of each additional space.)

Less vehicles = more walking (Hopefully healthier employees plus "more humans downtown.")

There are lots of other benefits to rideshares, van pools and downtown worker transit subsidies.

Good question you bring up: why should a government institution subsidize any program, even a good program, in good economic times or bad?

Well, if it benefits the citizens (see just a few examples above), and the society we live in becomes healthier and safer...if our welfare and the good of our society is increased, then government has the right to act on those issues.

The right to act doesn't mean the government should act, i.e., provide transit passes. It's also the responsibility of government to use money wisely, to balance the budget, to avoid waste, etc.

So, in my opinion, our ROI on transit passes surpasses the cost. The cost of parking, congestion and pollution appears to be greater than the cost of this program. Plus, if Boe's suggestion is followed (that employees contribute a portion to the purchase), then some will not take advantage of the program, thereby saving money. If employees pay 25% the cost of the program, and the city pays 75%, the ROI is even higher.

There is an old proverb, "Penny-wise but pound foolish." Sometimes you can save money but hurt your community in the long run.

by Maria on 3/2/2012 @ 2:20pm
Facts/data are very helpful when considering whether something is a wise course of action for a government or individual.

There is so much research about these kinds of programs.

But here is some amazing data, all on one page, spanning decades. Gorgeous facts about congestion reduction and carbon dioxide decreases and rates of employee participation.

by fredo on 3/2/2012 @ 2:46pm
Thanks everybody,

According to the state commute reduction law:

Measures MAY include:

4. Provision of subsidies for transit fares

6. Provision of subsidies for van pooling.

I don't see any law requiring the city to provide even a penny towards transit or pooling subsidies in the fulfillment of it's commute reduction goal. 

Also "failure of an employer to reach applicable trip reduction goals IS NOT A VIOLATION of the law.

by fredo on 3/2/2012 @ 2:57pm
Maria, I hope nothing I posted makes you think I favor congestion or pollution, nothing could be further from the truth.

But why can't the workers volutarily avail themselves of all the wonderful commuting options that society makes available? Don't they care if their commute is causing pollution or congestion?

This is just another example of the nanny state poking it's nose into every decision.

If you really want to reduce commuter trips why doesn't the city require workers to at least live in the city limits? Providing van pools encourages people to live far from the city. How does that reduce pollution or congestion? 

by cisserosmiley on 3/2/2012 @ 3:08pm
It feels like growing up here people had to live in the city limits when employed by Tacoma...did it get changed? When and all that?

by fredo on 3/2/2012 @ 3:30pm
Maybe people have a Tacoma address when they get hired on, then after their probationary period they move to their dream home which is located as far away from Tacoma as possible.

Why not, the taxpayer chumps are going to provide  them with a "commute reduction subsidy" from now until the day the retire.

Now that they've become commuters they have actually caused MORE congestion and burned more Carbon based fuels.

But what the heck, we're going to have to suffer some environmental collateral damage en route to our utopian futures.  

(Meanwhile back in Tacoma) the city infrastructure is allowed to go to rack and ruin for want of adequate funding.  

by Maria on 3/2/2012 @ 3:59pm
In my imaginary city of Mariaville, city workers who live downtown get a 5% annual bonus, plus a 5-year tax break on property taxes. Think about the increased spending at businesses in the core--plus reduction of pollution and congestion! 

by cisserosmiley on 3/2/2012 @ 4:20pm
Fredo has convinced me to work for the city. Does anyone know the new city manager's email, I want to ask him for a job.

by fredo on 3/2/2012 @ 4:20pm
Mariaville rewards people who live close to work.

Tacomaville rewards people who live far from work

....and yet you support the commute reduction program which (despite it's misleading name) actually increases congestion.  Interesting.

Just giving you a hard time Maria. Love your opinions.

by Maria on 3/2/2012 @ 4:32pm
There are only real dualities in Mariaville; no rhetorical dualities.

Therefore, along with 5% annual bonus for living downtown, city workers who choose to reside elsewhere still receive transit and carpooling incentives. Communities can promote density AND also work to alleviate traffic & pollution. They are not mutually exclusive, nor are they rewards...these mutually beneficial components of smart urban planning. :)

by fredo on 3/2/2012 @ 4:43pm

smart urban planning= subsidize people who are willing to live close to work but also subsidize people who are unwilling to live close to work.  All, hail utopia! We've been delivered.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 3/2/2012 @ 4:48pm
I really hope that Maria runs for Mayor or city council.  Some of the best thinking I've seen in a long time.  

by fredo on 3/2/2012 @ 4:57pm

  How about we replace Walker and Fey with Maria and Cissero? I'm OK with that.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 3/2/2012 @ 5:00pm
I'm sure that Fey will be grabbing Dicks job, imagine the dipping possibilities if he could get his hands on Dicks seat.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 3/2/2012 @ 5:08pm
Hmmm, that didn't come out as gracefully as I would have liked it.

by Maria on 3/2/2012 @ 5:50pm
Crenshaw Sepulveda: I really hope that Maria runs for Mayor or city council.

Thanks, that's so sweet. I live outside of Tacoma, and I'm terrible at math. If someone gave me a budget to assess, my estimates would be millions or billions off. (I'm actually not joking.) As a follower of Jesus Christ, I'm a bleeding-heart liberal and conservative in one package, which will tick off voters from both sides. I'm unelectable!!

However, I am helping to organize some Tacoma events for April National Poetry Month, so y'all come out and support the arts this Spring, okay?

by L.S.Erhardt on 3/2/2012 @ 9:50pm
The mayor is a figurehead in T-Town.
No math ability needed for someone who doesn't actually wield any real power.

by cisserosmiley on 3/2/2012 @ 10:15pm
Why shouldn't citizens of other cities be our mayor? There is a nice woman in Redmond I know and she would be good mayor.