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Deal struck on the GMP

Well, this is interesting.

The Metro board on Aug. 3 approved a ballot proposal that would have shifted tens of millions of dollars more in mobility payments to Houston at the expense of the county and small cities by basing the payments on where sales taxes are collected.

Monday’s tentative deal – reached in a meeting among Houston Mayor Annise Parker, County Commissioner Steve Radack, Metro chairman Gilbert Garcia and Greater Houston Partnership chairman Tony Chase – scrapped that approach, participants said.

The county and cities’ current mobility contracts expire in 2014. Under the new proposal, any increases in sales tax revenues above 2014 levels would be split half-and-half between Metro and its member governments, sources said.

That formula would continue until Metro had collected about $400 million under the arrangement, County Judge Ed Emmett said. Sources differed on whether that was projected to occur in 2024 or 2026.

Radack and Emmett stressed that the proposed deal would require Metro to spend its share of the tax revenue increase on buses, bus shelters and paying down debt, not on light rail lines.

“I’m optimistic that this will be a far better deal for the county and, at the same time, what’s being discussed will be a mechanism for Metro to be able to increase the amount of buses,” Radack said.

At this point, I don’t have enough information to have an opinion about this. I’m glad everyone has joined hands and is singing “Kumbaya”, but beyond that I need more details. It looks like a variation on the original mobility payment freeze that Chairman Garcia floated, and it does have the virtue of providing more money to Metro. Let me hear more and I’ll let you know more.

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5 Comments

  1. Jeff876 says:

    This is an awful deal because it prohibits the increased tax revenues from being used on light rail expansion, which is precisely where the money needs to go. Mayor Parker has basically given the anti-rail fanatics everything they wanted… At what point can we acknowledge that she’s more concerned with her re-election bid than moving this city forward?

  2. landslide says:

    It kinda reminds me of a limited-purpose annexation: like MUDs, the county has no authority to collect sales taxes, so they’re cutting a deal with an entity that can (in this case, METRO) as a way to increase revenues, even if they only come from that part of the county in the METRO service area.

  3. JJ says:

    15 years of light rail in Dallas, an extensive system, and the journalist who has followed it for 5 years and travelled all over calls it not worth the money and the lost opportunities because of the nature of Dallas (similar to Houston, I would argue).

    http://transportationblog.dallasnews.com/2012/08/headed-to-stanford-for-a-year-but-first-a-few-parting-thoughts.html/

  4. [...] here for some background. Christof Spieler was the lone No vote on the amended referendum. I had the [...]

  5. [...] relating to the Metro referendum, I spoke to the person with whom Metro Chair Gilbert Garcia brokered the deal on the GMP reauthorization: County Commissioner Steve Radack. Commissioner Radack is a strong [...]

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