East Texas veteran fighting battle over toll road fees - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

East Texas veteran fighting battle over toll road fees

(Source: KLTV Staff) (Source: KLTV Staff)
(Source: KLTV Staff) (Source: KLTV Staff)
(Source: KLTV Staff) (Source: KLTV Staff)

An East Texas veteran has been fighting a different battle, over Toll Road 49. The issue, a complicated policy concerning reduced and free tolls offered to some, but not all, veterans.
Martin Romer is a Purple Heart recipient, and has a specialty license plate to show that. He thought that plate would exempt him from fees on the toll road but according to NET- RMA, it does not.

He was first billed for his Toll 49 travels in February. He disputed the charge because of his specialty Purple Heart license plate.

He received a letter from NET- RMA's third party processing company saying the charge had been dropped so he thought he was okay. The next month he was billed again and the trend continued for five months.

"I sent them this letter back that they sent that said this license was exempt," Romer said.

Romer thought it was a mistake, but according to NET-RMA it isn't.

The Texas Department of Transportation does have a Veteran Discount Program, but it can be confusing. On certain toll roads across the state, recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor Legion of Valor and Purple Heart aren't charged if they have a specialty license plate.

NET-RMA Executive Director Chris Miller says that isn't the case on Toll 49.

"It's limited to the disabled veterans, so they have to have a tag that say disabled veteran in some capacity," Miller said.

That doesn't fit in Romer's case. He said he's traveled Toll 49 for about two years with the specialty Purple Heart license plate, this is the first year he's been billed.

"You call them and they say 'yeah, we'll take care of this, you don't have to worry. You might get one more bill but then you'll be ok,' and then month after month, the bills come,” Romer said.

Miller said that could be because the billing company mistakenly forgave the first charges when they were legitimate, according to policy.

"They are based in Austin; they are called MSB and they handle a lot of the billing for a lot of toll agencies in the state, and so there might be a cross thing going on here," Miller said.

Miller said they will discuss the issue in their next board meeting, and may consider adding other veterans to their exemption. If that does happen, it would news Romer would appreciate.

"The fact that I gave blood for this country, then perhaps they should figure this out and quit sending me a bill," Romer said.

NET-RMA officials said they are not required by law to provide any exemptions on the toll road. They said it is a voluntary exemption.

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