A couple of times in recent days we've linked to Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm's list of maybe-coulds offered as fund-raising suggestions to a cash-strapped city council that just doesn't wanna raise taxes. But have you really studied the document? Like, say, the part about how Suhm thinks City Hall maybe could charge five bucks per garage sale to pocket an extra $125,000? Or the part where neighborhood-patrol fees maybe could jump by a ridonkulous $12 an hour in order to make an additional $623,000 annually? Or the suggestion that maybe they could charge for parking at Dallas City Hall? Or the part where the city maybe could outsource code compliance to a private entity? Is that what Mayor Tom means when he says, "I think we will have to find what services are not core to what we do"?
Anyway. There is one item on the list to which there's not a price tag yet affixed: the implementation of a Transportation User Fee. Per the doc, "Revenue projections are being determined." But, first, what the what is a Transportation User Fee?
Lots of cities have 'em, including Hillsboro, Oregon, and Austin. Here's how Hillsboro describes it: "It is a monthly user fee based on the use of the road system by residents, businesses, government agencies, schools and non-profits." And, per Austin's City Code: "A user of a benefitted property [must] pay the prorated annual cost of the transportation system that can reasonably be attributed to the benefitted property [based upon] the number of motor vehicle trips generated by a benefitted property."
In other words: You got a car, you gotta pay -- most likely, an extra $3 to $4 a month, based on a quick look at other cities that add the fee to monthly utility bills. Austin, though, does exempt people who don't drive -- yet another reason to go car-free like Patrick Kennedy. (No word on a car-owning shut-in exemption.) In every city in which a TUF is implemented, the money goes into a transportation fund that pays for maintenance of old roads and the construction of new projects.
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In other words, you know what could be coming to an end? This.