Councilman revisits subsidy talk in bus shelter discussion

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

March 19, 2013 at 9:04 p.m.
Updated March 18, 2013 at 10:19 p.m.

Paul Polasek

Paul Polasek

Victoria City Council approved money for a 90 percent federally subsidized bus program just two weeks after "sending a message to Washington" about federal government spending.

Councilman Paul Polasek interjected the discussion Tuesday on spending $37,340 for five bus stop shelters to remind his council colleagues about their decision during their last meeting to reject applying for a federal solar-energy grant of $222,000.

"I didn't know if council wants to use this to send another message because this is federal dollars," he said during Tuesday's meeting.

Afterward, he said his intention was to give the council some history about the program's cost.

"I was just pointing out that we use federal money in small amounts and in numerous small projects locally in order to return some of those tax dollars our citizens pay to our community," he said.

The issue passed unanimously. Councilman Tom Halepaska was absent. Planning Services Director Jared Mayfield said the city contributes $164,500 annually to the area bus program. Its entire budget is about $1.6 million, of which fares cover about $125,000.

Although Polasek said he supported the program, he noted to council that its budget is "heavily subsidized" by the federal government.

"If we had to spend $1.6 million out of our local budget, I'm sure we wouldn't do it," Polasek said. "I doubt the city would be able to finance it if the money stopped."

Councilman Emett Alvarez, who made a comment after the previous meeting about sending a message to Washington, said if the program did not have high ridership numbers, it would discontinue.

"The fact is that it's helping people directly," he said.

The shelters will be at DeTar Hospital on Nueces Street, Salvation Army on Nueces Street, the Adult Education Center on Crestwood Drive, Mount Calvary Baptist Church on Navarro Street and The Corral restaurant on Rio Grande Street.

The funding is a pairing of $29,882 in community development block grants and $7,458 from the public works department.

The project is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, according to the contract.



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