It’s time to end the troubled marriage between Richland Hills and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority.
Richland Hills residents can file divorce papers when they vote in the Nov. 8 election. Early voting started Monday and continues through Nov. 4.
A proposition on Richland Hills ballots asks, “Shall the Fort Worth Transportation Authority be continued in the City of Richland Hills?”
Sadly, voters should mark “no.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
They shouldn’t feel bad. Their union with the transportation authority has lasted 24 years, reinforced by elections in 2004, 2010 and earlier this year in which Richland Hills residents said firmly that they wanted to continue the relationship.
But those elections also showed there was trouble. They came about because many Richland Hills residents said they were not getting enough in return for the millions of dollars they paid through a half-cent sales tax.
Inexplicably, after the election in May when Richland Hills again showed faithfulness, the transportation authority turned abusive.
Paul Ballard, the authority’s president since 2014, unilaterally discontinued a partial sales tax rebate given annually to member cities for years.
Meant to compensate for road damage caused by heavy buses, the rebate was to amount to $210,000 this year, city officials estimated.
Ballard’s excuse was that since Fort Worth had decided to donate its rebate to the new TEX Rail commuter train project, from which Fort Worth directly benefits, he could no longer justify sending the rebate to Richland Hills, which is miles away from TEX Rail.
That’s a bold sign that the transportation authority no longer values its relationship with Richland Hills.
So, it’s time to split.
As with any divorce, there will be settlements to be worked out.
Richland Hills has a valuable stop on the Trinity Railway Express commuter rail line. It should pay fees for continuing that service for Richland Hills residents, just like the transportation authority has increasingly negotiated with other nonmember cities.
Richland Hills must also determine what other transportation services it will provide to residents and how to pay for them.
But this much is sure: The marriage with the transportation authority no longer works.
The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends that Richland Hills residents vote “no” on continued service from the Fort Worth Transportation Authority.