Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chesterfield Commuters New $200 Tax

With all the news lately on the National front regarding the Presidential campaigning, many of us may have missed the release that the Richmond Metropolitan Authority (RMA) plans to raise the toll charges on the Powhite Parkway and Downtown Expressway from .50 cents to .70cents this Fall.

This new rate will in effect implement a $200 increase or transportation tax of sorts on Chesterfield County commuters driving both ways daily all year long with a five day work week. Currently it costs about $780 a year in tolls to do so and the level will be raised to around $988 at a time when most of us are feeling the impact of rising gas prices. I even noticed just this week that the cost for oil changes has risen dramatically in the last year as well for the servicing of our autos in the County by local dealers.

The new rate will certainly impact Chesterfield families more so than any other given the fact that Chesterfield resdients have virtually susidized the RMA for years when you consider the traffic counts of those who use the roads. The issue before Chesterfield is that in the wake of not real progress on Regional Authority or cooperation, especially after the City of Richmond's poor handling of the Richmond Braves ordeal could not this simply be constued as another anti-regionalism move by the City.

The City of Richmond holds 6 seats on the RMA which has the authority to raise the rates on these roads whereas Chesterfield and Henrico have but two seats each and the State places a person on the Board as well. So is this another example of where the County or those living in suburbia are subsidizing the interest of the City. To be sure the RMA is indebted to the City and will complete its repayment of loans by 2022 for the original construction of the project but the ratio of seats on the RMA seems troublesome given the usage rates by Chesterfield.

Both Se. Watkins -R (Powhatan) and Delegate Sam Nixon -R (Chesterfield) will have bills before the 2009 General Assembly to open up the seats on the RMA to a more balanced state but the City of Richmond and Mayor Wilder in particular seem poised to fight these measures that will come up. They of course will use the political screen of smoke and mirrors by telling legislatures that the City needs to protect is long term financial interest in the project and guarantee that its loans shall be repaid by the RMA but like the Richmond Braves I seriously doubt financial interests have anyhting to do with it---its simply pure power politics.

So I will not be reloading the EZPASS and will be taking alternative routes downtown in the future and do my part to send a message to the RMA that this resident of Chesterfield does not appreciate the RMA raising rates some 40% and I recommend all of the residents of Chesterfield do the same.

Power Politics- 1 Regional Cooperation- Zero.