Toll Lawsuit

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Toll Lawsuit

Postby RBarnes » Mon May 18, 2009 9:24 pm

I was wondering if anyone here knew about the MA toll lawsuit.

http://tollequitytrust.com/

I'd be interested in knowing more about this and if in some way it would be possible to expand the lawsuit to cover NH.
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Re: Toll Lawsuit

Postby Nat Fairbanks » Tue May 19, 2009 6:43 am

http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/ ... ny-backers

Schlictmann said there is legal precedent for the suit. In 1984, Emerson College sued the city of Boston after the city charged owners of large buildings fees to cover additional costs of fire services for larger structures. Those fees weren't reserved for a specific service offered to those fee payers, but were collected into a general fund for fire services.

A court decided that those fees were not legitimate because the payers didn't benefit enough from the services provided, payment wasn't voluntary and the revenue went into a general fund, according to the plaintiffs' court paperwork.

Since 1997, state legislation has allowed the Turnpike to use part of its toll revenue toward the costs of the Big Dig, and not just to maintain the roadway. The legislation also saddled the Turnpike Authority with the project's debt, now pegged at $2.2 billion.

"A fee that is charged has to be related to the service being provided" and not used for something else, Schlictmann said.

The precedent case is specific to MA, and also seems to rely on MA law, specifically prop 2 1/2. It said (based on a trusted source's analysis) that a fee (aka toll) is a tax if the fee isn't used exclusively to cover the cost of the service provided. Since MA prop 2 1/2 limits the increase and application of property taxes (which the Emerson fee case was deemed to be) without a vote of the public the fee was deemed illegal.

So the Mass Pike toll case is not at all applicable to NH if it continues to rely on the MA Emerson case for precedent. However if it's outcome is determined by some other legal facts then it may be applicable.

-Nat
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