At the Richland County Council meeting on June 1, several citizens braved the threatening skies to voice their opinion on the CMRTA proposal. If approved, the voters of Richland County will decide whether to provide CMRTA funding and finance associated transportation issues with a one percent sales tax. The vote is scheduled for November if the council approves the measure.
William Pass said he was in favor of a vibrant transportation system and the area needs one. He also said the sales tax initiative was the wrong way to get the funding, and he would fight against any proposal like that. Jim Lawrence said he wants to see the transit system survive, but the sales tax increase isn’t the way to do it. He suggested giving motorists a coupon to ride the bus and get local merchants to fund that idea.
Lill Mood of the League of Women Voters expressed her support for the proposal and said the 2008 proposal, which was similar, was too general to succeed. Justin Lofurno, who is with Provident Hospital, said that 20 percent of the 3000 Providence employees ride the bus to work, and he supports the proposal. John Lumpkin with the Waterfront Steering Team complimented the council for their professional approach dealing with the transportation issue and said he supports the tax increase.
Bob Liming from the group Save Our Buses encouraged the council members to not only approve the sales tax proposal but visit with the citizens in their districts and explain how important this proposal is. Rachel Kefalos from the Palmetto Cycling Coalition expressed hope that the transportation initiative would fund designated bike and pedestrian paths to help reduce fatalities. She said South Carolina was one of the worst states for bicycle related fatalities. Bill Leidinger, who has been a part of the committees to put together the transportation proposal, said the CMRTA Board has done everything asked of them to make this a success.
Doug Bridges, Ted Speth, and Anita Floyd also spoke in favor of the plan, each pointing out that a vibrant transportation system is a must for a successful community to thrive. Perhaps the most impressive speaker of the night was Charles Austin Jr. He arrived on a bus and struggled to get to the council chamber in a downpour. He walks with the aid of crutches and doesn’t have option of moving any faster. He asked the council to find a way to fund bus service because he and others like him are unable to travel around in any way other than public transportation.
An attempt to change the language of the building permit requirements so that people could replace windows, doors, siding, and roofing without a permit was deferred after much discussion and confusion.
Stephany Snowden told the council of the recent success of Savvy Seniors, an event held at the Columbia Mall to provide information to any senior citizen about the services available to them from Richland County. The event featured lots of fun and information and senior appropriate music from the sixties.
Chair Paul Livingston, Vice Chair Damon Jeter, Joyce Dickerson, Val Hutchinson, Norman Jackson, Gwen Kennedy, Bill Malinowski, Jim Manning, and Kit Smith were present. Greg Pearce was absent.
More detailed information as well as complete agendas and meeting minutes from past meetings can be found at the Richland County website: richlandonline. com
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