VIA board meets to discuss streetcar lawsuit

Suit claims transit agency using taxpayer money inappropriately

SAN ANTONIO – VIA Metropolitan Transit's board of trustees is meeting behind closed doors Tuesday night to be briefed on a lawsuit filed against VIA.

The suit claims the transit agency is using taxpayer money in a way it shouldn't to pay for the modern streetcar project.

As of Tuesday afternoon, VIA had not been served with the official documents, they have only seen a copy of the lawsuit.

The suit was filed on Friday. 

So Tuesday night's meeting is with its legal counsel to discuss how to respond.

The lawsuit claims VIA violated voter trust by using money from the voter-approved Advanced Transportation District funds. That fund is generated through sales tax.

The plaintiffs in the suit claim that when the ATD fund was approved in 2004, the money was never supposed to be used for toll roads or light rail.

But last hear Bexar County said $92 million of that fund would be used to pay for the county's portion of the streetcar project.

The ATD money will go toward improving VIA's multimodal transit center on the city's west side and the Robert Thompson Center near the Alamodome.

But VIA claims the projects planned for those centers are not specifically for the streetcar project, since they are already used by bus-riders today.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is George Allejos, who is a local member of League of United Latin American Citizens.

But state Sen. Donna Campbell has also made a similar claim that VIA violated public trust by using the ATD tax funds, and she too has appealed  to Attorney General Greg Abbott for a ruling.

VIA simply calls these claims baseless and frivolous, and one that could slow down the issuing of the ATD bonds, and, therefore, the funding of the project.

For a list of recent stories Myra Arthur has done, click here.

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