County residents who had hoped to address their commissioners on the need for rural bus service earlier this month, but were denied the opportunity, will be back again Tuesday. And it looks like this time they may at least get the chance to be heard.
“If they want to bring it back up, I think that’s fine,” County Commission Chairwoman Isabella Solis said. Friday.
It was Solis who caused an outrage at the meeting earlier this month when she moved on to the next item on the agenda, prohibiting any debate or public comment on the proposed transit service when a for funding motion by Commissioner Billy Garrett failed to garner a second.
Solis is correct when she says that she was following protocol. When a motion dies for lack of a second, the chair moves on to the next item.
But it is also correct for residents to demand that a decision as potentially damaging to as many residents as this one not be made without a full debate and complete explanation.
This isn’t an idea for a new service that commissioner can simply shrug off. Buses have been up and running for two years now. Ridership wasn’t great in the beginning, but it has grown steadily as the district has added new routes and refined its stops.
Now, hundreds of people rely on the transit service, with no other alternative to fill the void if the routes are discontinued.
Commissioners certainly have it within their power to take away that service from those residents if they desire, but they darn well better have a good reason to do so.
And they also had better have an alternative plan for all the residents who will be stranded by their decision. We have yet to hear one.
Thus far, only Commissioner Ben Rawson has explained his opposition. We disagree with him, but respect that he has defended his position whenever called upon to do so.
We don’t know why Commissioners Solis, John Vasquez and Ramon Gonzalez are against the funding, we only know that they refused to even allow for a discussion of it.
The proposed appropriation for the transit district was $350,000 – no insignificant sum, but a tiny fraction of what is being collected since the county increased its gross receipts tax by 3/8 of 1 percent a few years ago when allowed to do so by the state. From the very start, funding for the transit district was anticipated as a part of that new tax revenue.
The inaction of a couple weeks ago has already been costly. An anticipated federal grant of more than $1 million has been reduced to $564,000, according to transit district Executive Director David Armijo. And that’s just the start. Without the ability to provide matching funds, more outside money will be lost.
The district has already made plans to discontinue service on the route through San Miguel, La Mesa and Chamberino and reduce service on another line. And, a route to Hatch that was ready to be rolled out has been scrapped.
Maybe the commissioners who sat silently while that funding was lost have a good reason. Maybe they have a better plan to get poor people without cars from the colonias to the city.
If so, Tuesday would be a perfect time to let us hear it.
Full Article from Las Cruces Sun News HERE