In the song 'Taxman,' George Harrison sang, 'if you want to drive they'll tax the street.'
As San Antonio City Council begins work on the upcoming city budget, the idea of a Transportation Service Fee has been floated at City Hall, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
That's right...they want to charge you a toll to use public streets.
Maria Villagomez, the Deputy City Manager who oversees the budget, says it would raise as much as $70 million a year for street repairs and basic maintenance, which a survey of residents said was the number one need that they want addressed in the new budget.
"Its based on trip generation, land use, or parcel size," Villagomez told City Council. "It is dedicated to street maintenance, marking signals, signs and sidewalks, and also traffic management."
She says the Transportation Service Fee wouldn't be cheap.
"The fee for the residential user is anywhere between $7 to $12 a month," she said, citing a fee that is now in place in Austin.
She says people who don't own cars would be exempted, and senior citizens would get a discount. She says commercial businesses would pay more.
Villagomez says the fee currently in place in Austin brings in a bundle of money.
"$50 million is allocated for street maintenance and markings, and $20 million is allocated for traffic management."
Villagomez and other city officials pointed out that the new city budget is being put together amid a backdrop of substantial cuts in funding the city receives from the federal government, including block grants, and funding for medical programs and energy assistance.
In addition, actions being taken by the State Legislature also threaten to stip the city of sales tax and hotel occupancy tax money. If the so called 'Bathroom Bill' is passed, for example, several estimates predict a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and thousands of lost jobs as meetings, tourists, and conventions move to other states.
In a survey of thousands of residents taken in advance of the budget work sessions, 'streets, drainage, sidewalks and transportation' was listed as the number one priority of citizens. Number two is 'public safety' followed by 'parks and recreation,' 'housing and social services,' and 'health and wellness.'
The street usage fee was simply floated by one city official. It hasn't been even debated by City Council, let alone approved.
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