Convenience too Costly
by: Pat Hernandez, January 12, 2010 10:01:27 pm
The program started in March 2007. It provided special lines at Houston Municipal airports for motorists to use their toll road tags to pay for parking. The parking fees are billed to their account, and the Harris County Toll Road Authority gets a portion of the proceeds. The problem: the service is losing more money than it generates.
"I'm particularly surprised because I actually use it."
That's Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.
"It turned out the agreement that was signed, starting back in 2003 and finally signed in 2006. The cost on it were just exorbitant compared to the revenue we were getting. We were spending 170-thousand dollars a month to bring in 90-thousand and you can't do that for very long."
Emmett says the contract was not renegotiable either.
"Number one, it was 73-thousand dollars a month in bank fees and that was part of the agreement that was signed. And yeah, I flinched at that too. I thought my gosh. And then there was a 54-thousand dollar or so, monthly maintenance fee for the software. Nobody likes that agreement so we're all just moving away from it."
Fewer than half of the more than 150-thousand EZ Tag customers who chose to use the program, actually do. Harris County Commissioners voted to cancel the agreement in six months.