Under the General Mobility Program, Metro shares a quarter of its penny sales tax with Houston and other area municipalities as well as unincorporated Harris County. Revenues are then used for street upgrades and infrastructure improvements.
The program is set to expire in 2014, and voters will be asked to decide in November if the program should continue, and if it does, what it would look like in the future. Houston appoints most of the Metro board’s members, and City Councilman Oliver Pennington says council needs to follow the lead of Harris County Commissioners Court in passing a resolution in support of the program.
“I consider Metro to be just a development arm, to promote economic development inside the city, and I think they have a much more narrow view of their mission, and that’s just to build transit.”
Houston gets money from the General Mobility Program for street improvements, but if the program goes by the wayside, it means more money for transit. Metro Chairman Gilbert Garcia has proposed capping the program at 2014 levels, but he adds he’s looking at all options.
“I’m trying to find a way to continue the mobility program while at the same time giving some relief to Metro to get some additional funds, to really go back to the basics, pay down debt, and really focus on the bus system and get back to the basics.”
At tomorrow’s meeting, Metro board members will submit proposals on the program’s future. Next month, the board will have to decide exactly how the ballot proposal will be worded before it goes before voters.