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