Transportation Fee Could Yield $60M a Year



A new transportation utility fee could generate up to $60 million a year, an expert told Memphis City Council members Tuesday.

Council member Edmund Ford Jr. introduced the idea of such a fee during a meeting two weeks ago. The fees could generate revenue to be used to fund the underfunded Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) and road infrastructure projects, Ford said.

The transportation fee would be tacked on to utility bills and would be based on the number of trips on Memphis roads generated by individual properties. The rate would differ for commercial and residential properties.

When council members returned to the discussion Tuesday, they heard from Wayne Gaskin, a former city of Memphis engineer. He said there are many different ways to structure the rates, and said different options could produce revenues ranging from $30 to $60 million a year.

Based on the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ national standards, Gaskin said each month a large church could generate up to $6,300 in additional revenue, a sit-down restaurant up to $500, and a fast food restaurant anywhere from $125 to $1,000.

The council could opt to base the rates on types of commercial properties, as well as allow some residents to only pay a portion of the fee based on factors like income.

“There will be a lot of give and take when it comes to setting the rates,” Gaskin said. “I can’t emphasize that enough.”

Gaskin said the council, with community input, will have to hash out the specific details and amounts of the fees implemented in Memphis.

“It has to be something that is developed jointly,” he said.

Councilman Worth Morgan said he still has some "major questions" about the fee, such as how the funds will be dispersed. 

Ford said the council will continue the conversation at its meeting in two weeks.

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