On October 14, 2010, the San Antonio City Council unanimously voted to give the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) a BAILOUT on the City's $500,000 loan to the toll road agency. The RMA defaulted on the loan September 1, 2010, and the City Council voted to breathe new life into the controversial toll agency that's been on the ropes since the clearance for its first toll project, US 281, got yanked in 2008, by voting to give the RMA a one year extension on repayment of the loan.
Taxpayers asked the Council to pull the plug on the RMA, whose salaries exceed $1 million/yr for just 10 employees, and whose sole existence relies on levying NEW toll taxes and keeping free lanes jammed so that congestion weary commuters will part with more of their hard-earned cash. Councilwoman Jennifer Ramos did take RMA Executive Director Terry Brechtel to task prior to the vote. The RMA has no revenue stream to pay back the loan other than tolls, so the vote showed unanimous support by Mayor Julian Castro and the Council in FAVOR OF TOLLING this community. The estimated tab to the average family will be $2,000-$3,000/yr in NEW taxes just to get to work.
However, to say they have no revenue stream may be true, but it's not the same as having no money. The RMA has been skimming multi-millions in management fees (at least $15 million that's over and above their salaries and operating expenses) off the TxDOT grants for the environmental work on 281 & 1604 and off the interchange project. So they're not exactly broke...just really good at balance sheet chicanery.
The attitude of some RMA Board members at their Board meeting after they appeared at Council was "Why would they expect us to pay the loan back after all we do to serve this community?"
Can we get our loans forgiven because we serve the community? Such a cavalier attitude when it comes to the taxpayers' money is truly astonishing...they think they're entitled to everyone forgiving their debt just because they're the RMA. They're seeking to have TxDOT forgive some of their debt, too.
So when you're struggling to pay your tax bill and to keep food on the table, remember who voted to give a failing government bureaucracy a bailout with YOUR money citing government’s “financial hardship,” while making YOUR financial hardship greater.
RMA loan extended
By Josh Baugh - Express-News
Web Posted: 10/14/2010 7:25 PM CDT
The City Council on Thursday agreed to give the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority — the agency that would build toll roads in San Antonio — another year to make good on a $500,000 loan that it can't afford to pay.
Toll-road opponents, including members of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, decried the move, saying it was essentially a vote in support of tolling.
TURF founder Terri Hall, who wasn't at the meeting, said that extending the term of the five-year-old loan allows the RMA to continue to exist. She and her group are lobbying state lawmakers to repeal the law that allows regional mobility authorities to exist.
“We want these RMAs to go away,” she said. “They're a big waste of money and a second-tier bureaucracy.”
Read the rest of the story here.