Effective Steps to Establishing a Transit Benefit Ordinance
Every municipality has a slightly different structure and process to pass legislation. Use the guide below as a checklist or idea list towards the goal of passing legislation for your community.
- Map out a rationale for how this ordinance would benefit the community in terms of environment, traffic congestion, tax savings for residents, and increased transit usage. Use this information whenever you approach anyone potentially impacted by the ordinance.
- Identify one or more council members that will present legislation to the council or board. Map out the process of passage of the ordinance.
- Work with their staff person to identify a department within the municipality that will work on the compliance of the ordinance. Meet with heads of this department to get an estimate on how much time and staff would be required to monitor compliance.
- Use the existing templates to draft the proposed legislation, or have department contact do so. There are several key points to decide on:
a. minimum number of employees for an employer to fall under the regulation
b. what are the penalties for non-compliance
c. how long a period will be allowed before enforcement begins
- Work with legal counsel from the City Attorney’s office to make sure that the proposed legislation is compliant with other codes and state laws.
- Identify key individuals that are willing to collaborate on bringing in business leaders, council members, and other officials within the municipality.
- If the municipality is small, organize a meeting with the City Manager, Director of Financing/Accounting, and the City Attorney. Review the ordinance, explain the community benefits.
- Make sure that the municipality already offers a transit benefit for their employees. Nothing will create a backlash more quickly than asking someone to do something that is not already practices. Find out how many employees participate and calculate the income and payroll tax savings. This will be helpful background to share with businesses as an example.
- Organize focus groups with local business (large and small) to get input and feedback on the concept.
- Present to and solicit input from local business groups such as chambers of commerce and merchant associations. if they support ask them to write a letter.
- Work with labor councils, environmental groups, and transit agencies to further build support for passage. They will most likely be immediately supportive. The key is to have a balance of business interests and other civic contributors.
- Develop compliance materials. Work with department staff person on educational material and a public relations plan to get the word out to employers.
- Once passage occurs:
- Write a press release to give to local media, and to business groups to post on-line on in their newsletter. The call to action should explain:
- The benefits to the community
- The overall tax savings
- Where to get assistance to set up a program, if you are an employer
- Hold employer training sessions. Use sample PowerPoints and FAQs to help employer start their own program.
- Map out compliance process internally.