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County supervisor has "serious reservations" about extending Measure R

Passengers wait for Metrolink subway trains during rush hour June 3, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Skyrocketing gas prices are driving more commuters to take trains and buses to work instead of their cars. In the first three months of 2008, the number of trips taken on public transport in the US rose 3 percent to 2.6 billion, creating pressures on some transportation systems to cope with increasing ridership. Transit officials in southern California and elsewhere are now encouraging employers to stagger employee schedules to ease the rush hour crunch on trains and buses.
David McNew/Getty Images
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hopes voters agree to extend Measure R, a half-cent sales tax for transit projects, later this year. One county supervisor, however, questions why that must be done now.

On the eve of the Metro Board of Directors’ vote on whether to support a state bill that would eliminate the sunset date of Measure R, one Los Angeles County supervisor today made it clear he has "serious reservations" about the proposal.

Measure R is a half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is pushing for a November vote to extend that sales tax indefinitely. Right now, the tax is scheduled to end in 2039.

The Metro board is expected to vote tomorrow on a recommendation to support AB 1446, a bill from Assemblyman Mike Feuer that would remove the sunset date and authorize an extension to be placed on the November ballot.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who sits on the Metro board, issued a lengthy statement this evening, questioning the timing of a tax extension.

“What matters here are urgent? Why are we in such haste to alter our compact? What is the rationale for attempting to establish sales tax in perpetuity during a time of such economic uncertainty?” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement.

It was just a week ago that county Supervisor Mike Antonovich, also a Metro board member, likened the 2008 passage of Measure R to a “gang rape.”

The Metro Board of Directors will meet tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.