TRANSPORTATION REINVESTMENT ZONE WILL HELP COUNTY
The Smith County Commissioners are proposing a creative solution to help complete construction of Toll 49 and to provide additional funding for Smith County roads.
By forming a "Transportation Reinvestment Zone" (TRZ) along the Toll 49 route, the County could channel millions of dollars to these road projects over a 25 year period without increasing taxes. Revenues would be generated through future development along the route. Also, the county can dedicate a portion of the incremental growth in value along the corridor to the TRZ fund. This fund can be utilized for road projects along the corridor such as completion and maintenance of Toll 49. In addition to the funds dedicated through the TRZ, the county is considering dedicating a portion of the remaining incremental growth in value specifically to a road improvement fund (rather than have it go directly into the general fund), which would also help finance road improvement projects.
An important point is that Smith County would not incur debt for Toll 49. They could transfer a portion of the TRZ funds to the Northeast Texas Regional Mobility Authority (NET RMA) for construction of the remainder of Toll 49 within Smith County. The debt would be the responsibility of the RMA, a regional (not a state) entity, and no TRZ funds would be used outside of Smith County.
Opponents have called this a "boondoggle" that would take money away from the County. Many of these critics have been against Toll 49 since it was first proposed as the "Outer Loop" in the early 1990s.
They said it was a waste of money and a "road to nowhere."
Now that the toll way has connected to I-20 near Hide-A-Way Lake, it is processing 26,000 transactions per day, more than double what was projected. That will only increase as Smith County continues to grow and as more segments are constructed. The thousands of daily drivers who use this new roadway do not consider it a boondoggle or a road to nowhere.
Thomas G. Mullins
Tyler Economic Development Council
NO TO TRZ
It is beyond me that our Commissioners Court does not see the boondoggle that is ahead for them with this new TRZ program. I am opposed to using my property taxes to fund this toll road or any other toll road because it will take money away from fixing our county roads, which is one of the Court's top priorities (and our roads are in desperate need of fixing). The commissioners do not have a long-range plan to fix our and maintain our roads.
The problem here is that our state legislators have misused our gasoline tax and have not taken care of our state highways as mandated, and they are attempting to push this down to the lower levels of government.
Regarding the letter about the proposed Tyler animal shelter that ran last Sunday, the writer seems to think that the Tyler City Council made a bad decision by not getting in bed with the SPCA. Many people do not agree with that opinion.
The City Council has a responsibility to spend tax money — also "hard-earned" — in a way that benefits the city and its citizens. Now, I like animals, I just feel that tax money should not be spent on dogs or cats. Or any other pet. Or any charity that benefits pets.
If the SPCA has donated money and wants to be involved, it should go to the city pound and collect the animals that they want to care for and adopt. But, the expense of caring for and adopting the animals should not be paid by the city.
In addition, I am not in favor of new taxes, but if there is an expense incurred by the city for animals, there should be a tax collected by the city from animal owners or veterinarians.