The state legislation that governs Via specifically requires the agency to hold a referendum for any new tax or for any increase in an existing tax rate. Since the streetcar system will be built using existing local funds and no new tax or tax increase is needed, a referendum is not permitted.
The legislation also restricts referendums related to rail projects to transit authorities that have principal municipalities with populations greater than 1.9 million or less than 850,000. San Antonio has a population of just under 1.4 million.
“The short, simple answer is, Via is not permitted to hold a referendum on the streetcar project,” said Via Board Chairman Alex Briseño. “Similarly, referendums are not held for other transportation projects in the region, such as toll roads and highway interchanges. We will continue bringing our community transit options to meet the current and future transit needs, spur economic growth, and support the vision of SA2020.”