$12 million windfall: Bexar County fee hike could subsidize toll roads, transit

NOTE: HB 1573 is a $10 vehicle registration fee hike that only applies to Bexar County. Unlike the other local fee hike bills, this is the ONLY ONE that does NOT require voter approval! It is specifically administered by the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (RMA), the local toll authority -- so it will undoubtedly be used to SUBSIDIZE toll roads.

None of the Bexar County toll projects are toll viable. That means there is not enough projected toll payers to cover the cost of construction and retiring the debt. Rather than scrap the ill-conceived, unsustainable toll roads, the RMA sought another source of revenue to SUBSIDIZE its toll projects so that all vehicle owners will be paying for the toll project but only those who can afford to pay tolls will actually be able to use it!

The RMA can also operate parking structures, intermodal hubs, transit projects and systems, and RAIL projects. So this fee hike can be used to fund all of these types of projects, without a public vote. It can also be used to subsidize Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff’s unpopular street car system.

This $12 million a year in new revenues gives the RMA a healthy revenue stream it then bond against -- meaning MORE debt for Bexar County residents.

Sen. Donna Campbell, with the help of Jeff Judson, amended the bill to keep the ATD Board from getting access to the funds, however, the RMA can operate a street car as well. So she voted for a tax hike that can go to fund both toll roads and street cars when she ran opposing both.

Fee increase could yield $12 million for Bexar County roads
By Vianna Davila, Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The state Senate approved a substitute bill Tuesday that would authorize the optional collection of a motor vehicle registration fee of $10 that would yield $12 million for Bexar County road and bridge projects annually.

The bill now will be sent back to the House for consideration. Friday is the last day the House can act on Senate amendments.

Even if the substitute is approved in the House and signed into law by the governor, Bexar County commissioners still would have to vote to invoke the fee, which would be on top of existing vehicle registration fees.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said it's not clear if commissioners would decide to do that or when, but this bill “would give us that option.”

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/politics/texas_legislature/article/Fee-increase-could-yield-12-million-for-Bexar-4536533.php#ixzz2UureeVww

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