Denton Considers Road-Use Fee on Utility Bills

Fee for road upkeep, repairs would be added to utility bills

Denton is considering an extra fee on utility bills that would be dedicated to road construction.

The transportation user fee would function like a new charge on utility bills. It would specifically go to the upkeep and repair of local roads.

Austin, Corpus Christi and Bryan are the only cities in Texas to utilize such a fee, Water Utilities Director Jim Coulter said in a memo to council members.

They assess the fees based on traffic intensity and customer size, which results in a fee system in which businesses are expected to generate more revenue than, say, a single-family residence.

Under Corpus Christi's fee model, Denton annually could raise an extra $8 million by charging about $9.97 per month for a single-family customer and $4.49 per month for a customer in a multifamily home, Coulter said.

Councilman Kevin Roden said in a blog posting that Corpus Christi's model would mean an extra $60 to $120 or so per year for residents. However, there is a documented need for road work in the city, he said.

Earlier this year, the City Council discussed a 2009 study that showed Denton roads needed more than $12 million annually in work just to keep up -- not including fixing existing problems. The road-use fee was one of several ideas suggested as a possible fix.

Roden also said that citizens passed a $20 million road bond last year dedicated to street construction.

Some residents say road conditions may call for an extra fee.

"I'd pay a road-use fee," Nick Amendola said. "I actually lost a hubcap driving down the road that I live on."

"I would pay extra for that, as long as they guarantee it's for the roads," Stephanie Wells said.

But others say it would be a sizable fee to add onto utility bills.

"I don't think we need another fee," Bryan Evans said. "I think we've had enough. They have enough money already."

In his notes to the council, Coulter said Arlington and College Station both tried to charge the transportation-user fees but were unsuccessful.

Tuesday's City Council work session was one of Denton's first discussions dedicated to the road use fee idea.

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