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Mayoral candidates propose alternate to METRO vote

At least two mayoral candidates have listened to the voters, and have suggested that an alternative to the funding and spending proposals that are proposed by METRO should be on the ballot next November.

METRO is planning on a referendum, on the November 4 ballot, to get voter approval for a Mobility Plan that would include light rail lines, increased bus service, expanded HOV lanes, and general mobility improvements. However, in the year 2009 the plan calls for METRO to stop funding road improvements to the local communities it serves. Presumably these costs would revert to local municipal budgets, and either not be funded, or require additional taxes to maintain the street improvements that now are paid for by METRO money.

Candidates Bill White and Orlando Sanchez so far have publicly sought to have METRO continue funding for local street work after the 2009 date. Sanchez wants a second referendum item to be voted upon, and White wants METRO to propose cutting the rail component of the budget, and seek funds from other sources than the sales tax and rider revenue.

Metro chairman Art Schechter indicated he would take these suggestions into consideration, just as he is also planning to incorporate come of the comments and suggestions made at other public meetings that have been held all over the city for the last two months.

However, likely mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner has suggested that an alternative proposal may harm the rail interests, and make voters more likely to reject the plan.

The Metro board is expected to vote on a final plan on July 31st that would include some public input items. However, in Hispanic communities, the sentiment has been that more needs to be done for them than presently is outlined in the Mobility Plan.