Commissioners yank loan from tolling authority!

Link to article here. Terrific, now if we could just get TxDOT to stop throwing money into this money pit, the mini-TxDOT bureaucracy known as the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority, the Texas taxpayers would be much better off!

Use it or lose it
By Pat Driscoll
September 12, 2007

Bexar County commissioners this week yanked a $500,000 loan to the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority because, one commissioner said, the agency has been obsessed with toll roads.Commissioners formed the mobility authority in April 2004 to exert local control over toll roads that the Texas Department of Transportation would otherwise develop, and also, hopefully, spearhead other new ways to finance transportation.

But the authority has no money source, and the only promising possibility so far has been future tolls. So to get started, the agency lined up $1.25 million in loans from the county, $500,000 from the city and $8.5 million from TxDOT.

Meanwhile, it’s been the county and VIA Metropolitan Transit forging ahead with new non-toll financing solutions.

The county cut a deal last year to back bonds for $54 million worth of work to widen parts of Culebra and Blanco roads, and VIA in November 2004 ushered in a sales tax increase that created a dedicated TxDOT fund to help pay for such highway projects. TxDOT will use its VIA fund and other money to reimburse the county.

“The only innovative funding the RMA has brought in is tolling,” said Commissioner Lyle Larson, a longtime critic of toll plans. “They really haven’t been able to represent themselves in any way other than as TxDOT’s arm in local communities.”

As of July 31, the mobility authority had drawn $1.25 million from the county and city and $4.2 million from TxDOT to cover such things as salaries, consultant fees, rent and supplies. The agency hadn’t spent another $500,000 available from the county, and that’s what commissioners pulled Tuesday when they passed their budget.

Commissioners voted 5-0 on a motion last week to take the $500,000 loan back and use it to pay for five new deputy sheriff positions. They followed with another unanimous vote this week to approve the budget.

From latest audit report for the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority.