OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 :::

Inside the Senate Proposal

I suppose one of the things that happens inside a Senate caucus is the creation of talking points. The ink is barely dry on their new proposal, and already, the talking points in support of it have appeared. Of particular note are the sections dealing with regional taxing authorities:

A regional authority can be established if the governing bodies of each of two or more (i)contiguous counties or cities or (ii) counties or cities that are included in the same highway construction district by resolution declares that there is a need for a regional transportation authority to be created for all of such counties and cities to exercise in such counties and cities such powers and other functions prescribed for a regional transportation authority, a body corporate and politic shall be created.

An authority’s governing body shall include the chief elected official of the participating localities,three members of the General Assembly (two Delegates and one Senator), two citizen members appointed by the Governor, and representatives from VDOT and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

An authority’s responsibilities include preparing and adopting a regional transportation plan; entering into contracts and agreements with other entities to finance, construct, manage, or operate transportation facilities and mass transportation services; and acquire land.

A majority of the authority can make decisions. The policies and priorities shall be guided by performance-based criteria such as the ability to improve travel times, reduce delays, connect regional activity centers, improve safety, improve air quality, and move the most people in the most cost-effective manner.

An authority shall report annually on (i) the allocation and expenditure of all moneys received by it; (ii) use of these moneys to reduce traffic congestion in the counties and cities included in the authority; and (iii) use of these moneys to improve air quality in such counties and cities.

Any county or city that makes the resolution to participate in the authority may, by ordinance, levy and collect the fees and taxes described above, or any combination thereof, provided that each county or city included in the authority levies the same taxes or fees, or combination thereof, and at the same rate or rates.

A lot to chew on. But as I've said, these regional tax entities seemed to be gaining favor. But is it wise to propose creating unelected and unaccountable taxing authorities? Yes, they include elected officials. But there is no direct voter control. That won't sit well at all in some quarters.

::: posted by Norman Leahy at 3/29/2006 1 comments


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