How about paying sharply higher annual fees to have your car registered in Bexar County?
News Radio 1200 WOAI reports that on the heels of an increase in registration fees in 2012, and another increase last year to cover the cost of the combined registration and inspection, a little noticed bill in the Legislature would jack up the annual fee by another $20 dollars.
The money would be given to the county-operated Regional Mobility Authority to build new highways.
But, unlike Proposition 1 and Proposition 7, the Constitutional Amendments passed statewide in the last three years to dedicate vehicle sales tax and oil severance tax money to road construction, this bill does not include a provision forbidding the money to be used to build toll roads.
Anti toll activist Terri Hall says that will open the door for an 'endless stream of revenue' to fund otherwise unfundable toll projects, predicting that if this measure goes through, Bexar County soon will be covered with so many toll roads, you'll have to pay a toll to drive to the grocery store.
"You give them a revenue stream like vehicle registration fees, and it will be an eternal revenue stream," Hall said. "It will never go away, and there is no prohibition on this money being used on toll roads."
She pointed out that the Metropolitan Planning Organization concedes that it is some $300 million short of the funding it needs, even counting projected toll revenue, to build new toll lanes on Loop 1604, but this would be perfect to fill that revenue gap.
"There is not a single toll-viable project in Bexar County," she said. "So they have to come up with ways to increase your taxes to then build a toll road with that tax money. This is a perfect example of double and even triple taxation."
Hall says local officials 'simply cannot be trusted' with a large amount of money earmarked for highways.For example, even though voters were promised in the 2004 Advanced Transportation District election that one quarter of the quarter cent increase in the sales tax would go to streets and roadways, several members of City Council openly considered ignoring the promises made to the people and transferring that money to VIA Metro Transit. That proposal failed.
But Hall says this 'below the radar' effor to jack up vehicle registration fees is part of a plan to add toll roads, along with totall discredited 'High Occupancy Vehicle' lanes to nearly every highway in Bexar County.
"It is trying to punish you for driving in your vehicle to get to work every day," she said. "They hope to use tolls and HOV lanes and all of these other gimmicks to force you out of your car and into another form of transportaton that they deem politically correct."
Hall said, after the spectacular failure of the privately operated portion of the State Highway 130 toll road, 'unless the RMA wants to put shovels on their shoulders and build the toll lanes themselves,' taxpayers will be on the hook for 100% of the revenue bonds floated to build new toll lanes, potentially making the scheme even more expensive.