Monday, July 17, 2017

Taking a Look at How HART is Funded

HART keeps Hillsborough County on the move!
Liza used to say "Money makes the world go around". So, while HART keeps Hillsborough County residents on the move, ultimately, the almighty dollar makes the wheels on the bus go around.

With that said, let's take a look at how HART is funded.

Let's get something out of the way upfront, as it's almost always brought up in regards to transit funding. Public transportation is NOT a money maker, and does not pay for itself. Even our transportation friends in the private sector are finding profitability challenging.

Paying your $2.00 HART fare in 2017 only covers roughly 22.5% of the cost of operating that trip! For those commuting on the other side of the Bay, that drops to only 18% or so. This is not just relative to the Tampa Bay area. DART, in Dallas, recovers roughly 15%, while MTA, the New York Subway system, recovers roughly 38%.

So, if fares only cover 22.5% of the true cost of operations, where does the rest of the funding come from? Here is a breakdown of the HART budget:
  • Fares and Passes Revenue: 22.5%
  • Advertising Income: 1.7%
  • Other Income (MegaBus, RedCoach, Commuter Ads): 0.5%
  • Ad Valorem Tax Revenue: 51.7%
  • Federal Grants: 14.7%
  • State Grants: 7.7%
  • Local Funds: 1.3%
As you can see, HART is funded from a variety of sources from advertising, to state and federal funding. The largest portion of this is actually via Hillsborough County Ad Valorem/property tax revenue. HART is currently capped at a millage rate of .5000. A millage rate is the amount per $1,000 used to calculate property taxes owed.

To make this example easy, let's say your home is valued at $100,000. Your portion to HART would be $100,000 / $1,000 (millage rate is per $1,000) x .5000 (millage rate for HART) = $50. So, HART receives $50 from your property taxes.

In Pinellas, PSTA currently operates on a millage rate of .7500, with 59% of their budget coming from property taxes.

There has recently been talk about possibly raising the millage rate cap for HART from the current .5000. Let's take a look at what that would mean for Hillsborough home owners.

First, due to the organization's charter, the HART Board would have to approve the notion of raising the millage, and then the County Commission and city councils of Tampa and Temple Terrace would also have to approve it. Voters would ultimately have the final word, in the form of a county referendum.

So, going back to the original example, a homeowner with a house valuation of $100,000 with a millage rate equal to PSTA at .7500 (as an example) would see a rise of their property tax of roughly $25 annually.

What would this mean for HART?

HART received $38,872,885 in property tax in FY17, from $77,745,771 overall in taxable value of Hillsborough County properties. Based off of those numbers, HART would receive $58,309,328 for the year - an increase of roughly $20 million.

HART FY2027 Transit Needs Plan
What could HART do with that funding?

Additional funding would accelerate the implementation of the HART 10-year "Needs Plan," with the possibility of additional service not currently included in that plan.

This means more buses and vans, more frequently, covering more territory, to get people to work, play, etc.

The HART Board discussed raising the millage rate at their meeting on 7/17. Director Kemp requested information on how other peer cities fund transit. HART staff will review data and come back at a later date to brief the Board.

Stay tuned to our social channels for updates!

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Comments to this blog are moderated by HART staff. Constructive comments are welcome; any obscene, threatening, or otherwise inappropriate comments will be deleted before posting. Questions about specific service ("is my bus on time?") cannot be answered here, and should be directed to the HARTinfo Line at (813) 254-HART (4278). General questions may be addressed in future posts.