Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Metro Council urged to find the money to keep 7 targeted bus routes

Residents tell concerns at public hearing By MICHAEL CASS • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • June 4, 2008 Nashville bus riders and others urged the Metro Council on Tuesday to restore funding for seven bus routes that would be dropped as a result of the city's proposed budget for 2008-09. Most speakers at a public hearing on the budget said the city shouldn't remove some people's only transportation option. "Please don't take that away from us, and please don't leave us stranded," said Sheila Hansen, a legally blind woman who said the quality of the bus system was one reason she moved to Nashville from Florida in the 1980s. Mayor Karl Dean has proposed a $400,000 cut to the Metro Transit Authority's budget, but skyrocketing diesel prices caused MTA to ask the city for $2.5 million more than it received this year. The Transit Authority plans to cut its seven least-productive bus routes and raise fares July 1 to help make up the $2.9 million shortfall. Susan Duvenhage, president and CEO of the Adventure Science Center, said some of the museum's staff, volunteers and visitors could be affected by the cuts. "Eliminating routes could have an unintended impact on businesses and nonprofits whose customers rely on them," Duvenhage said. Residents also spoke out against proposed cuts to the Fire Department, reduced hours at some libraries and community centers, and a lack of raises for school support employees such as custodians. Some criticized the city's recent decision to amend the Nashville Predators' lease of Sommet Center and give the Predators' owners millions of additional dollars, though that money is not coming from property tax revenues, which fund most Metro services. Meanwhile, a handful of residents asked the council to approve Dean's proposal, saying it would be good for the arts. In other business, the council approved a change to the "capacity fees" new restaurant owners must pay to hook up to the water and sewer systems. Entrepreneurs now will be able to spread payments that can run as high as $42,000 over 36 months instead of putting the entire amount up at one

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