We can't afford the CAMPO 2025 plan
By Roger Baker * May 24, 2000

Just yesterday, May 24, CAMPO finally released the final missing portion of their long range 2025 Plan, which is the City of Austin's share of the cost of implementing the plan.
 
Under federal law, the plan must financially constrained by reasonable revenue sources. Accordingly, the planners have bent over backwards to fudge the numbers to paper over the bad news of how much it will cost Austin to keep up with the sprawl trends assumed by the CAMPO plan.
 
To fund the right-of-way (ROW) and construction needed for roads, CAMPO estimates it will cost Austin $582 million in current 1997 dollars total until 2025; $447 million in construction and $105 million in right-of-way.
 
But it is estimated that the city can only afford to use about $10 million out of its $56.6 million per year of total bonds on the "CAMPO roads". Therefore this would total only 25x10=$250 million out of the $582 million needed.
 
Therefore a gigantic shortfall -- of $339 million -- AMOUNTING TO THE BULK OF AUSTIN'S SHARE OF THE CAMPO PLAN -- is admitted in the document just released. This gap cannot be bridged except with heavy new taxes for roads.
 
The CAMPO planners try to put the best spin on this shortfall by suggesting that rapidly rising property values might somehow raise taxes enough to eliminate this shortfall; "It is important to recognize that this financial analysis uses a conservative revenue projection, developed prior to the current increase in property valuations".
 
But this ray of hope vanishes if the same numbers are used consistantly and honestly. The same increases in property values would ALSO raise the presumed right of way costs by 20-30 percent in this year alone, leaving the plan swimming in even more red ink.
 
So what about the heavy new taxes for roads? CAMPO suggests new legislation to get another 1/2 cent sales tax, but this would take state legislation and local voter approval.
 
Other taxes suggested are a new Local Option Fuel Tax, Benefit Assessment Districts, and Bicycle Licence/Registration Fees.
 
From my point of view the question the public should be asking is whether the federal TEA-21 requirement that local transpo planning be financially constrained to reasonable revenue sources has any meaning if CAMPO is permitted to invent hypothetical taxes which are inconsistant with existing law. If so the federal law has little meaning.




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