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Bill would let voters in urban Texas counties decide on fees, taxes for transit projects

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Commissioner against fed involvement

The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE – Provided the Transit bill introduced Monday in Austin becomes law, Ellis County Commissioners would be authorizeed to hold an election to raise fees for projects.

County Judge Chad Adams and the City of Waxahachie hosted a presentation at the Waxahachie Civic Center this Monday, Feb. 16, for local county and city officials with Michael Morris, director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Adams currently serves on the COG Regional Transportation Council and once served as its president.

NCTCOG’s executive board, composed of 13 locally elected officials, is the policy-making body for all activities undertaken by the Council of Governments, including program activities and decisions, regional plans and fiscal and budgetary policies.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Brown, R-Red Oak, also serves on the board.

When prompted with several questions about a second handout (presented at this meeting) with conflicting information regarding whether or not property taxes would be one of the items raised Morris said it would be taken off.

"I as a staff person, I couldn’t change this packet.[ legislature and today’s] starting today, I am updating the presentation."

Precinct 3 Commissioner Heath Sims, R-Waxahachie is still getting information and learning about it.

"As a citizen, I’m not a fan of it. I’m not a city person. I don’t think federal government and TXDOT etc. should all be involved in county projects. We already are paying a gas tax for our roads anyway." Said Sims.

He believes there are other mechanisms already in place.

"If we need to get a bond to repair roads, we can ask the voters if that’s something they want and do it.

"I thought this was for rail, but then they [NCTCOG] go on about it being used to have highways and road work."

The bill for the Texas Local Option Transportation Funding Act will be introduced to the legislature next Monday.

"If the city of Waxahachie wants a railstation, let em pay for it," said Sims.

At a glance: Transportation funding

A bill filed Monday would allow county commissioners to call an election to ask voters to approve new taxes or fees to pay for transportation projects. Voters could be asked to approve one or all of the following, and counties could decide to reduce some of the fees for low-income residents:

Up to a 10-cent increase in per-gallon gasoline taxes, with the increase adjusted each year to keep pace with inflation.

A "local option mobility improvement fee" not to exceed $60 a year.

A parking fee of up to $1 per hour per space, though details were unspecified.

An annual motor vehicle emissions fee up to $15.

A driver’s license renewal fee equal to the current registration fee, which is $24 every six years for most drivers, and $8 for senior citizens.

Up to a $250 fee for new residents who register cars previously registered in another state.

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