Street car opponents say Bexar taxpayers are being railroaded

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by Karen Grace / KENS 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @KENSKarenGrace

kens5.com

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 28 at 7:59 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- VIA got the thumbs up today for the Texas Department of Transportation to pay $92 million for a new street car program. But if this sounds too good to be true, opponents say it is. That's because they say the deal railroads Bexar County tax payers into thinking they're not paying for the rail system.

On Monday afternoon, the Metropolitan Planning Organization board voted yes to taking $92 million from TXDOT to pay for street cars.

"They are going to shift the source of the funding," said Jeffrey Arndt, VIA Interim President and CEO.

Opponents say while it looks legit for VIA to use TXDOT dollars to pay for street cars, Bexar County tax dollars will end up paying TXDOT back. That's a fact VIA doesn't deny.

"We believe that the Advanced Transportation fund from Bexar County is a legitimate source," said Arndt.

The ADT money comes from a sales tax that voters approved in 2004. But while voters said yes to funding transportation projects, they said no to paying for rail cars. So how can that money be used to pay back TXDOT? VIA calls is a "swap," but the South Texas Alliance for Progress calls it something else.

"I don't know what other term we can use besides money laundering," said George Rodriguez. "They can't use the ADT money straight forward because of the vote that was taken in 2002."

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