‘Crash tax' raising eyebrows in Missouri City

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by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on February 18, 2013 at 11:14 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 20 at 10:35 AM

MISSOURI CITY, Texas -- The Houston suburb of Missouri City is going to charge drivers extra to respond to wrecks.

It's known as a "crash tax." It’s a fee to cover the cost of first responders who come to help you out, and that fee could add up to a couple thousand bucks.

Starting March 1, Missouri City's Fire Department will charge a fee for responding to traffic accidents.

"That really ticks me,” said Missouri City resident Meredith Johnson. “I can't believe that. That's crazy!

Drivers involved will be charged even if they don't call for help.

"I think of how often they show up. I see them show up and everyone's walking around. I'm freaking out,” said Johnson.

The charges range from $500 all the way up to $2,000. The amount depends on the severity of the accident. Those fees target drivers that are at fault, which is little consolation to those skeptical about how it's going to work.

"Everything's ridiculous right now,” said Vicky, a driver in Missouri City. “Everybody's out to make money -- especially the government.”

Fire Chief Russell Sander believes the so-called "crash tax" will help plug the city's budget deficit.

When asked what do you say to those people that are concerned out there, Chief Sander said, “They're not going to see something sent to their house.”

Sander said the bills will be sent directly to insurance companies, and he doesn't want drivers to be worried.

"I don't think they're going to see much differences in our services or their cost that's out of their pocket,” Chief Sander said.

For drivers like Meredith Johnson, that explanation isn't enough.

"Don't we pay them to do that already?” asked Johnson.

She wonders what will happen if insurance companies do not pick up the tab for the accident. That will now come with an additional price tag.

The city is bringing in a third party company to handle the billing for this. They estimate that this is going to pull in an extra $50,000 for the city a year.

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