Re: Regional Transportation Council
It appears many of our elected officials are once again conspiring against the taxpayers and are in cahoots with quasi-governmental entities to foist on an unaware public huge tax and fee increases.
Years ago when the North Texas Council of Governments was formed many of us predicted there would be trouble out of this entity. Up to now a lot of their chicanery has been outside Ellis County. Now the camel is putting its nose under our tent and it’s in the form of using regional transportation to extend DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) rail to our area. A recent announcement of a meeting to be held on Feb. 16, at the Waxahachie Civic Center has come to my attention. This is a lunch, question and answer meeting for elected officials from over Ellis County regarding the regional rail initiative. Would this constitute an illegal meeting since there could possibly be quorums of councils, etc.? This meeting has received little attention and I believe the public is unaware of the potential financial impact it could have on them if what is being proposed comes to pass.
It is readily apparent our County Commissioners are involved as is the County Judge, Chad Adams. I have been told our city, Midlothian, is a member of the NTCG but where our city officials fit into this I haven’t found out yet. This specious plan would create rail corridors running to Dallas and they would be paid for by Ellis County citizens. Some of the more onerous provisions for funding this travesty are, according to their proposed legislative outline:
The bill shall authorize a transportation district to:
· Levy fees and taxes subject to voter approval
· Issue debt
· Fund operations, maintenance, capital and debt service expenses for passenger rail,
· Transit, roadways and freight rail.
· Contract with other entities to provide mobility services and implement projects
The transportation district shall use revenue generated from fees and taxes in a particular county to fund mobility needs in that county. The district may levy the following fees and taxes if approved by voters at an election on a date authorized by statute:
· A vehicle registration fee, not to exceed $150 per vehicle per year
· A motor fuels excise tax, not to exceed $0.10 per gallon
· A mileage fee, not to exceed $0.01 per vehicle mile driven
· A property tax, not to exceed $0.05 per $100 appraised value
· A driver’s license fee, not to exceed $50
· New resident impact (vehicle registration), not to exceed $250 per year
Using some assumptions, I have calculated the cost of this on the average Ellis County citizen at between $600 and $1,200 per year. Those assumptions were: Ownership of two vehicles (hence two driver’s licenses), 12,000 miles driven per year, 667 gallons of fuel consumed based on an average of 18 miles per gallon, and an average property value of $175,000. Hardly astronomical numbers, but the costs are considerable when you consider, by their own account, there are 27,982 citizens in Ellis County amounting to revenue generated of $18,864,531.67 which is not an insignificant number.
I personally travel to North Dallas to work every day. To say it’s not cheap is an understatement. Yet, I do not think it would be right to ask to my neighbors to financially subsidize my transportation costs to and from work, especially when a lot of them don’t get out of Ellis County more than once a month.
Ask yourself if you personally can afford or want to pay another $600 to $1,200 in taxes per year. This outrageous project must be stopped because people are already overburdened by taxes and do not need more financial suffering in a time that is financially distressing for so many. Not to mention the harmful impact this would have on the elderly and those on a fixed income.