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San Antonio

VIA Wants To Be On November Ballot For Sales Tax, San Antonio Officials Oppose

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Ryan Loyd
/
Texas Public Radio

VIA Metropolitan Transit will seek a sales tax election this November. The board voted unanimously Thursday morning to inform the City of San Antonio and Bexar County of its intent to send the issue of a 1/8th cent sales tax to voters. 

The move has been opposed by both city and county officials.

VIA Board Chair Hope Andrade said the transit company, the City of San Antonio and Bexar County could not come to an agreement over the last week.

“This is not about filling a budget hole created by COVID-19. It is about closing the opportunity gaps created by 40 years of chronic underfunding,” Andrade said.

According to VIA Board Vice-Chair Bob Comeaux, an unsuccessful vote would restrict the company’s progress and could potentially cause it to regress.

“It is hard for me to comprehend that city leaders would oppose something that is so vital to transportation and vital to helping to eliminate the severe traffic congestion that we all experience,” he said.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg had planned a similar election for transit using the same sales tax but he dropped the bid in June after economic fallout was brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Nirenberg said he supports mass transit but that the community needs to take a step back and re-evaluate priorities. He had shelved a proposed vote using the same money for transit due to the pandemic. 

The tax currently funds aquifer protection, but it expires next year and may be used for issues like transit or other initiatives. The VIA board will have to make another formal vote in August to officially put it on the ballot.

Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@tpr.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.

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