LEANDER, Texas — Leander is considering cutting ties with Capital Metro.
If voters approve of the withdrawal, it would mean bus and rail services would come to an end in the city.
The Leander mayor and the interim city manager are set to soon negotiate an agreement with an attorney to start the process to cease using Capital Metro’s services. The topic is on the city council's agenda Thursday.
A 1% sales tax imposed by Leander and other service areas is what funds the agency. Leander Mayor Troy Hill is considering reducing that sales tax cut.
"They shouldn't take the whole one cent," said Hill. "It should be a quarter of a cent."
Capital Metro told KVUE, "There is no legal ability for the authority [CapMetro] to reduce just one member's sales tax contribution to the authority."
CapMetro said it is willing to discuss the issue further with the City.
"We're always ready and willing to work with them to modify, improve, upgrade – do what we can do to meet the needs of that community," said Todd Hemingson, executive vice president of planning and development at the transit agency.
CapMetro serves Leander through rail and bus services. The Metro Express bus line serves Leander on the weekends.
On Thursday, Capital Metro released the following statement:
"It is difficult to accurately estimate the cost of withdrawal as it is based on FUTURE obligations as at the effective date of withdrawal. As at December 2018, we estimated the cost of withdrawal as $9.8M. The cost of withdrawal in November 2019 will be a different number and future contractual obligations cannot accurately be estimated. The calculation is determined by Texas Transportation Code Section 451.611. Under Texas law, it would be illegal to reduce one member city’s sales tax from, for example, one cent to a quarter.
Operating cost for current service provided within Leander City boundaries is estimated at $9.3M per year. If Leander was to withdraw and contract for service, Leander would also need to pay for the capital costs related to the rail line, trains, buses and other infrastructure, the rent of the Leander station, as well as a proportional share of accessing the transit network. We currently do not have an estimate for the total cost of service, but it would be higher than $10M a year."
On Thursday evening, CapMetro sent KVUE the following statement:
"Under current Texas state law, it is unconstitutional for us to reduce the sales tax for just one, or a few, but not all member cities.
Capital Metro believes in regional mobility solutions and we are happy to discuss with Leander and other regional stakeholders how we can better facilitate partnerships that meet joint goals."
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