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DeSoto mass transit would raise property taxes

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MEGAN GRAY

The Ellis County Press

DESOTO - Local residents packed the city council chambers Saturday, Jan.30 to speak their mind on bringing mass transportation to the city during a pubic town hall meeting.

The meeting was put together by the city to try and get a feel of what their citizens wanted.

"There are no plans to go ahead and do anything, this is just a sounding board with the residents here,"said Mayor Bobby Waddle.

"The city went from 150 people when I was growing up to 50,000 now, so it’s time to stimulate some discussion."

In 1982 when Dallas Area Rapid Transit invited the suburban cities to participate in their system, Desoto’s city leaders declined because they believed there was far better ways to spend taxpayer money.

A commitment of one cent of the city’s 2-cent sales tax base was required to support DART.

City Manager Tarron Richa-rdson said the discussion was part of the city’s 2010 work plan to include a strategy to interface with DART and to find means of transportation for senior citizens and citizens with disability.

"This was one time a rural AG community, now it’s a suburban area needing to get from point A to point B," said Richardson.

Residents were responding with mixed feelings. One even said there is no need for DART calling it "trashy and dirty" while another felt the city was in dire need of public transportation.

Some expressed the need for maybe a closer Park and Ride in town instead of all the way in neighboring city Glenn Heights, while others wanted to explore their options and maybe "keep it local" with a transit or transportation service of some sort by a local businessman to help get the elderly out and about.

With seniors stepping up saying, "I am a senior citizen and I do not need public transportation" and the issue arising from some that the Senior Center provides transportation and it’s rarely used.

When asked if residents would be willing to pay a five to 12 cent tax increase per $100 on their property taxes, most were opposed of such an increase.

"I have a sneaky suspicion some discussion with DART has already been made and I wouldn’t be surprised if a representative with them isn’t sitting here taking notes now," said one concerned resident.

Mary Kay Dewberry, while not opposed to some sort of transit, suggested options should be looked at (such as grants) before a tax increase is made.

Members of the city council were in attendance and in a meeting March 4 the council will get together and dissect the questions and concerns raised by its constituents.


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