Council discusses easing bus fare increases

Wednesday, September 3, 2008 | 9:56 p.m. CDT; updated 12:52 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 4, 2008

COLUMBIA - At the final work session Wednesday for the 2009 fiscal budget, City Council discussed amendments that would use funds to soften a proposed bus fare increase and provide a continuation of the Paquin Tower recreation program.

These amendments will be added to the city's 2009 fiscal budget, which the council hopes to have ready for approval by the end of its Sept. 15 meeting.

In past work sessions, the council had discussed using $175,000 to eliminate a bus fare increase proposed in the city manager's budget.

But City Manager Bill Watkins said the increase is necessary to keep up with inflation and rising gas prices. He also said if the council subsidizes the amount of the fee increase this year, it would have to continue its support with ever-increasing amounts.

The council decided Wednesday in favor of the fare increases, though it also recommended using $12,500 - instead of $175,000 - to lessen the increase of the 30-day unlimited full fare fastpass from $40 to $35 and the 30-day unlimited half-fare fastpass from $20 to $15.

The council said it hopes the smaller increase on the passes would give a break to the bus system's frequent passengers.

After an outpouring of public comments during Tuesday's city council meeting, the council also decided Wednesday to allocate $72,000, up $11,000 from the previous proposed amount, for a scaled-back version of the program that provides activities and transportation to Paquin Tower residents.

Motivated by residents' fears of losing their transportation to the grocery store, the council decided to fully fund the program for six months and then partially fund the program for the following six months.

"It feels like we really need to buy some time here," said First Ward Councilman Paul Sturtz.

The council said it hoped the community and potential partners would step up in the coming year to help fund the Paquin Tower program, though some councilmen also expressed worry that none would.

Hindman said the council needs to realize that the incentive to help has been there since it proposed cutting the program and nothing has happened.

Also to be included in the final proposal of budget amendments is continuing the operation of the Lake of the Woods pool and the possible hiring of a sustainability director halfway through the year.

The council was able to create $423,300 in cuts and changes to fully fund the $419,900 worth of projects in the budget amendments.



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Charles Dudley Jr September 4, 2008 | 5:56 a.m.

I'm glad to see City Council looking art helping out on the bus fare problems. Kudos ladies and gentlemen.
On the Paquin Tower issue what disturbs me as not only a resident but also as a participant and a concerned citizen is that this city needs programs such as these to help this community to be as diverse as it is and appealing to more people who might look to move here especially those with disabilities who move here for all of the recovery aspects that are provided in this area.
When I moved here to Missouri over 10 years ago I always heard from the start that Columbia was "disabled friendly" and "recovery friendly" but with potential closings such as these I am beginning to see just the opposite these days so which are we? I am relatively new to Columbia being only here 7 years now but have been watching this city grow since I moved here.
Are we as a city true to our own words we preach or do we give lip service to lure unsuspecting people in just to get their tax money?
I am not originally from this "Show Me" state so I have to ask the old timers of this city which is it? Do you take care of your own and their programs you have provided since clear back in the 70's or is this a case of lip service to the community as a whole with no long term production to back up your words of taking care of your own?
All I ask is you "Show Me how you roll on this issue" over the long run of the growth of this city and the care of it's disabled citizens who help pay taxes here just as non disabled citizens as well.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 4, 2008 | 8:59 a.m.


If you do lose the transportation part of your program, couldn't you come up with some carpooling or sharing arrangement with those Paquin residents that have cars? They do have a full parking lot there most of the time, that I notice. A lot of people around where I live arrange that sort of thing with their neighbors.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 4, 2008 | 10:56 a.m.

Mark Foecking often times it is not as easy as you think. You may see cars parked in that parking lot but how many of them belong to health care workers that come daily to work with their clients,how many might belong to a neighbor across the street and on top of that if you plan a grocery trips to the store as this program does through out the month it is not economical to make several trips in a few vehicles to move a mass amount of people when you can do it all in one trip or in two trips as the monthly Wal Mart trip takes to do also how many handicapped wheel chair vans do you see back there that can accommodate 14 passengers and 2 wheel chairs at one time.
Do you see what I mean?
This transportation issue is much bigger than you realize and I welcome you or any citizen who thinks it is not to come to Paquin Tower and talk to the residents and participants of this program to get their points of view on this transportation subject but I know you will find their concerns are about the same as mine are due to they acknowledge me as one of the main spokesmen in all of this campaign to keep this program as fully funded as it can be to ensure that the quality of service they have enjoyed since 1973 can be kept in place.
Don't you as a citizen expect a quality of service in your life out of any resource that is funded by this city that you might use? These participants and residents are no different than you in the quality of services they have enjoyed since this program was founded so why should that be changed now?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking September 4, 2008 | 11:31 a.m.

What you're telling me is you haven't looked into alternatives. You have no idea how many residents have cars, or would be willing to enter into some car-sharing agreement. You simply are unwilling to discuss any alternative but the full funding in perpetuity of a program that costs a bit less than half, per participant-year, of what it costs to send a child to Columbia public school. This cost is why there is an issue with your program.

If transportation is that important, could you get that preserved at the cost of something else, like one of the part-timers? You will likely have to make some compromises here, as cuts are also being made in other programs and departments.

I can't think of any city services I use that I don't pay for directly, and I pay for a lot that I don't use. If I'm paying, I expect a quality of service. If I'm not, I'm happy with what I can get.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 4, 2008 | 12:05 p.m.

Well Mark if you think my views are so wrong then come over to Paquin Tower and talk to some of the participants of this program and get their views. Alternatives have been and are being looked into at this time.
Once again instead of sitting up here on this forum or any other forum come on down into the trenches and talk to the participants to see just how it is over all then come back here and post your views.
Talk to the staff of the Adaptive Recreation Program,talk to residents and participants alike. You are invited at any time. We do not bite and our disabilities are far from contagious either. As on another site I told you this same thing as in "you just might discover your humanity you obviously lack or have lost". We have our monthly Recreational Council Meting on the 18th of this month at 4:15 pm you are welcome to attend but please do not sit here critiquing this program or it's participants unless you get to know these citizens of Columbia first and foremost. Councilman Wade and Skala at least did that much and if you watched the last City Council meeting you would see just who we as participants in this program are.

(Report Comment)

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