One more week of madness!
It’s an exciting, albeit anxious, time as the votes are tallied – not only for the highest office in our country, but on several important initiatives that will significantly impact the future of La Plata County. I’m watching with great interest to see what we, as a community, decide with regard to our local ballot initiatives on roads and bridges, the airport and schools.
In addition to coming to terms with the changes this election brings, our community leaders must start to formalize budgets for 2017.
As a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, I’ve been involved in the budgeting process with the Parks and Recreation Department for several months. We started seeking public input into the prioritization of the Parks and Recreation capital improvement projects back in February of 2016. This prioritization of projects became the basis for the Durango Parks and Recreation Department five-year strategic plan. The Parks and Recreation budget was then prepared, with the goal of funding this strategic plan.
For more details on the Parks and Rec budgeting process you can refer to my blog, Durango Parks and Recreation Roadmap and Priorities. This blog explains the public input process that we, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, developed. It also has links to the Durango Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan 2016-2020, as well as the Durango Parks, Open Space, Trails and Recreation Master Plan 2010.
I also attended the Durango City Council budget work session on October 14th and I wanted to give you a ‘Front-Row Seat’ vantage point in my blog post this week!
The budgeting process for the City of Durango is a multi-faceted process, focusing on directing and prioritizing expenditures, identifying areas of concern and ultimately presenting a balanced budget. The most critical area of concern identified throughout this entire budgeting work session was the transportation budget.
Cuts are expected as early as 2017 in federal and state grants that fund a significant portion of Durango’s public transportation budget. These cuts will cause a serious funding gap that will ultimately, if not replaced by revenue from another source, cause an inability to provide the transportation service that the City of Durango provides today.
This important service connects both locals and tourists to retail and restaurant destinations and provides access to jobs, schools, medical treatment and many other services for low income residents, seniors, students and people with disabilities. It also improves the quality of life for all La Plata County residents and makes for a healthier community by easing traffic congestion, reducing pollution, decreasing dependence on gasoline, and lessening wear and tear on our roads.
In 2015, 17,818 individuals utilized Durango Transit. 76% of users were transit dependent and 73% used this service daily, with 67% of them from low-income households making less than $25,000 per year. Durango Transit provides its ridership an average of 500,000 trips annually within Durango city limits.
We, as a community, must immediately and proactively confront this issue and the first step to doing just that is to understand and be aware of the options, alternatives, and solutions. It’s my hope that our City leaders and staff will embark on a focused and energetic discussion of the transportation budget as a next — and vital — step in the budgeting process.
For more information on this looming threat in public transportation, the budget and expected shortfalls, see my brand-new blog post published today: Durango Transit – Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?
Melissa Youssef, Blogger
“Your Front Row Seat”
Focusing on issues and initiatives significant to all who call Durango home.
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