Posted: Apr 8, 2013 5:39 PM
Updated: Apr 8, 2013 6:39 PM
CORPUS CHRISTI - An alternative plan to the street user fee has been presented to the Chamber of Commerce by a group of local business owners called the Street Fairness group. But according to a memo written by the City Attorney Carlos Valdez, there are problems with the plan.
First, the city says we have a $15 million need but the plan presented to the Chamber of Commerce only raises $10 million. The group says that's fine, but they city needs to do one thing.
"It's incumbent upon them to justify where and how they are going to spend the money," said Street Fairness member Andy Taubman.
The city plans to do just that. Assistant City Manager Oscar Martinez says if the fee is approved, before any work starts they will release an exact budget sheet that will show what work will be done and where every penny will go.
But the biggest issue, according to the City Attorney, is that it would be very difficult to defend the plan proposed by the street fairness group as a fee and not a tax. "Any plan should be judged as whether it's a fee versus a tax," said Taubman. Including the city's plan. "If you are telling them that this is a fee and it is indeed a tax. Than I think what you've done is you've broken the trust," said Taubman.
Martinez says the city understands this concern and has gone through great lengths to ensure what they are proposing is in fact a fee and not a tax.
"We have explored it from a legal stand point and have an opinion from an outside attorney and our legal council with the city that it's a allowable fee," said Martinez.
While the city appreciates the input and recommendations the Street Fairness group has given, they still believe the best plan is the one city officials have been working on for almost a year now.
The City Council is expected to vote on the proposed street user fee in about 6 weeks.
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