While the decision by the Supreme Court of Texas in the eminent domain case, Miles v. Texas Central, is awaited, county attorneys along the proposed high-speed rail route have submitted a supplemental letter to the court listing the counties and delinquent taxes for 2021.
The list includes 10 counties. The most is owed to Harris County — $216,359.85 — while the least is owed in Leon County—$3,942.30. The amount owed in Ellis County is still to be determined.
The county attorneys believe the information is relevant to the Supreme Court’s decision because Texas Central “has not demonstrated that it can fund the project according to the plan.”
The finances of the proposed railroad have been a concern of many. In 2020, Texas Central board chairman Drayton McLane Jr. admitted in a letter that the project’s costs had increased significantly to about $30 billion.
The high-speed rail line would need to be approved by the Surface Transportation Board before construction, a process that would include examining the financing and viability of the project.
Waller County Judge Trey Duhon said, “We felt it was important to share this telling information with the Supreme Court of Texas. Texas Central would have the Court believe they are capable of building a $30B project and should be entrusted with the enormous power of eminent domain yet, the truth is they are incapable of doing something that responsible property owners must do every year — pay their property taxes.”
By holding land but not paying the taxes, the county attorneys say Texas Central “is actively harming the impacted counties by depriving them of funds needed for essential public services.”
Texans Against High-Speed Rail has also recently learned that several property owners associations have liens against Texas Central for unpaid maintenance charges. For example, White Oak Falls Homeowners Association in Harris County filed a lien for delinquent charges on March 10. It claims Texas Central owes $1,516.23.
Although it originally claimed the high-speed rail line would be privately financed, Texas Central CEO Carlos Aguilar last year admitted that it needs funding from the federal government for the project to happen.
Texas Central did not reply to a request for comment by the time of publication.
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Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.