Several Brazos Valley counties say Texas Central Railroad delinquent on 2021 property taxes

Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 11:12 PM CDT
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WALLER, Texas (KBTX) - The Supreme Court of Texas is working to decide whether the builder of a proposed 240-mile high-speed rail from Dallas to Houston has the power to take land through eminent domain.

A recent court filing in the case James Frederick Miles v. Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure, Inc. and Integrated Texas Logistics Inc. has shed some light on how the proposed railroad may already be struggling.

According to documents filed with the Supreme Court of Texas, attorneys representing Dallas, Ellis, Navarro, Freestone, Limestone, Leon, Madison, Grimes, Waller, and Harris Counties say the railway owes $622,978 in taxes and counting. Ellis County is still in the process of determining the exact amount of back taxes owed.

Lawyers filing the paperwork say Texas Central’s inability to pay its property taxes proves the project will not bring economic benefits to Texas or its rural communities, and has yet to demonstrate that it can fund the project according to plan.

Waller County is one of four Brazos Valley areas owed back taxes for 2021. Trey Duhon, Waller County judge and president of Texans Against High-Speed Rail, an organization that wants to see an end to this particular high-speed rail project, says the $111,817 owed to their county takes money from the budget for essential services like maintaining roads and bridges and providing law enforcement services.

“Anytime you have a taxpayer, especially of that size that’s not paying their property taxes, it causes issues for the county,” said Duhon. “Every county in the state of Texas, our main revenue comes from property taxes and that’s how we run the elections office, the tax accessors office, emergency management. That’s how we do what we do as a county.”

Texas House District 13 Rep. Ben Leman and former chairperson of Texans Against High-Speed Rail says he is concerned about the residents who live in the areas of the proposed railway.

”They {Texas Central} said they had the $30 billion needed to construct the project. That’s what they told all the legislators that I work with. And now we find out of course, which we knew was already true, that they don’t have that money,” said Leman. “They claim to get it from the Biden infrastructure plan but they don’t even have enough money to pay their property taxes.”

Leman says this issue goes against everything Texas Central promised.

“That is in fact shameful,” said Leman. “When you consider that with their representations that they’ve also stated time and time again that they will be taxpayers, not tax takers.”

Both Leman and Duhon say they’re all for progress and understand that Texas is rapidly growing and will need more transportation options. They both say they’re not anti-railroad as long as the project is in the best interest of the residents and fiscally responsible.

“I think it’s gone on long enough. These people have had to live under this cloud for seven-eight plus years,” said Duhon. “Its really time to call this project dead and it’s time to move on and let people get on with their lives.”

ICYMI: Yesterday, the counties of Grimes, Waller, Madison, Leon, Ellis, Freestone, Limestone, and Navarro filed a...

Posted by Ben Leman on Thursday, March 31, 2022

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