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Rowlett joins list of cities that want to cut DART funding

A passenger sits inside a DART bus at a transit center in downtown Dallas.
Pablo Arauz Peña
A passenger sits inside a DART bus at a transit center in downtown Dallas.

Another North Texas city wants to cut funding for Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

The Rowlett City Council last week approved a resolution to reduce its sales tax contribution to DART by 25%. The city said it allocates about $10 million annually to the agency via a 1-cent sales tax imposed on member cities. 

Mayor Blake Margolis said the symbolic resolution isn’t about dropping membership in DART.

“This is about DART’s, in my opinion, flawed business model and the desire to incentivize an efficient operation that will benefit the riders, member cities and DART,” he said.

The Plano City Council passed a similar resolution last month, and Dallas is also weighing funding cuts.

Explaining the resolution, Margolis cited issues with ridership tracking and DART’s dependence on sales tax revenues.

DART receives 75% of its revenue from member cities’ contributions, according to a May memo from CEO Nadine Lee. Agency documents show sales and use taxes made up 78% of DART’s revenue last year, compared to 61% in 2022. 

In the memo, Lee said cuts would negatively impact services and hurt the agency’s budget. DART did not respond to KERA’s request for comment.

Rowlett’s resolution, like Plano’s, is symbolic. The decision to reduce sales tax contributions would ultimately be up to the board of directors that represents DART’s 13 member cities. 

Council member Elise Bowers supported the resolution, but said she hopes more people start taking public transit as the area’s population grows. 

“I am very concerned with the number of ozone days that we have had and the amount of traffic that we have coming through,” she said.

Margolis stressed that he is “not against public transportation.

“What this resolution is about is about advocating for an efficient system that does not over-rely on taxpayer dollars to service approximately 4% of individuals in DFW,” he said. “DART has a money problem.”

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Copyright 2024 KERA

Pablo Arauz Peña
Nadya Faulx