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Let the people vote: City charter change can force vote on street cars, tolls

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Two of the most controversial initiatives in San Antonio are street cars and toll roads. Politicians and officials at every level of government seem bent on forcing both on taxpayers without their consent. A broad coalition of groups have come together to gather the sufficient number of signatures to amend the City of San Antonio’s charter to compel the city to seek voter approval before street cars or any toll project can commence.

Via has stated it cannot call for a vote on the street cars at this juncture which is true, but that doesn’t stop the ability of the citizens to amend the city charter to force the city to put the street cars to a vote. Confusion is the standard operating procedure for politicians and government agencies and most people tend to believe the ‘authorities.’ However, we should have learned our lesson by now that government has an interest in keeping certain information from the public, and it’s our duty scrutinize what officials tell us and properly vet public policies that will spend and obligate billions in taxpayer money.

Many taxpayers object to the $92 million in road money being used to build a street car transit system downtown where there’s no congestion. That’s $92 million critically needed to fix highways like 281 or 1604 or other congested north side freeways without tolls. Starting a new rail system that so few will use which will require taxpayer subsidies for our lifetimes while asking commuters to pay extra toll taxes in order to access roadways that tens of thousands San Antonians motorists rely on for daily living, is a Texas-sized example of misplaced priorities.

With gas again approaching $3.50 a gallon, commuters cannot afford this added tax burden. The published toll rates will be 17 cents/mile up to 50 cents/mile and will go up as congestion goes up. It’s a confiscatory runaway tax scheme in the hands of unelected boards - by design - that will cost the average household $2,000-$4,000 a year in new taxes on driving. The city and county should delay any commitments of money and any contracts for the street car starter system as well as toll projects until the voters have a chance to vote on it in November when the citizens get this city charter amendment on the ballot.

Castro promised public vote on tolls, street car
Fueling the voter outrage are the broken promises by politicians. Mayor Julian Castro said he’d be for voter involvement if the Advanced Transportation District (ATD) sales tax wasn’t enough to fully fund the street car (which it’s not - $92 million in Texas Mobility Funds that were allocated to fixing 281 & 1604 have already been re-directed to the street car). Castro also said he would not support toll roads without a public vote. Watch it here (about two minutes into film). Both were stated on the record at City Council.

Tired of waiting for politicians to do the right thing and keep their promises, the citizens can utilize the tools available to them to put both boondoggles on the ballot. To sign both petitions, registered voters who reside inside the San Antonio city limits can go to www.LetSAVote.com. Encourage friends and neighbors to do the same. Time is of the essence.

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