Street fee opponents begin gathering signatures

DALLAS -- Opponents of the city's recently passed street maintenance fee have collected about half the signatures they need to put the matter before voters.



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Margot Wallis (left) signs a petition to send the city of Dallas street maintenance fee to a vote of the people. Explaining the issue is Faye Frei, one of the chief petitioners.

DALLAS -- Opponents of the city's recently passed street maintenance fee have collected about half the signatures they need to put the matter before voters.

The Dallas City Council approved the fee on Jan. 4.

Craig Pope, who is assisting the anti-fee contingent and represents the pro-free market group Americans for Prosperity, said the group needs a little more than 800 valid registered voter signatures to qualify for the May 2010 ballot.

The group set a goal to collect 1,000, down from the original goal of 1,500, to make sure they have the necessary amount for the initiative to qualify for the election, Pope said.

As of Monday morning, Pope said the group had collected 500 signatures in an effort that began on Jan. 12. The group has 30 days starting Jan. 4 to gather the signatures and turn them into the Polk County Clerk's Office for verification.

Three chief petitioners, John Frei, Faye Frei and Delbert Fredricks, are in charge of organizing the signature campaign. Pope said the group is organizing door-to-door neighborhood canvassing efforts and has some permanent petition locations downtown, including outside the Dallas Market on Oak Street.

Pope said that if the anti-fee group succeeds in collecting enough signatures, that will send a message to the city council that it should have allowed voters to decide the issue.

He said Americans for Prosperity is supporting the anti-fee effort not because it is against all fees, but those fees voters are not given a chance to approve.

"I think it's a shame that it has come to this," he said.

The Dallas City Council passed the $2.50-per-month fee in a 7-1 vote at its first meeting in January. Councilor Jackie Lawson voted "no" and Councilor David Voves was not in attendance. City staff revised the original formula, unveiled last summer, to the flat rate after the first proposal proved too complicated.

City officials have said the fee is needed to keep city-maintained streets from falling into severe disrepair.

Street Fee info:

* the fee charges $2.50 per month to every housing or business unit in the city starting on July 1, 2010 and increasing $1 each year until reaching a cap of $5.50 per month in 2013.

* the fee assessment will be attached city water and sewer bills and only units receiving bills would be subject to the fee.

* the council will review the fee, including the amount and if an increase is necessary, annually.

* The fee will end in 2020.



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