MS: Tupelo Public Transit Pilot Remains Uncertain

July 02--TUPELO -- Mayor Jason Shelton said today his fiscal year 2015 budget recommendation will not include funding for a pilot public transportation project.

Shelton included exploring public transportation as part of his platform when elected a year ago but says more details should follow before proposing tax dollars to the effort.

The mayor's statement in an interview streamed live on comes a day after city officials met with citizens to discuss two proposals for a year-long pilot project. Two businesses responded a few months ago to city requests for proposals earlier this year for a temporary public transit project.

Both proposals appear unacceptable -- one based on expense, while the other, a four-page document, lacked specifics.

Among ideas discussed Monday, the group mentioned four options to proceed: reject the proposals and start the process anew, negotiate with one of the companies, ask the council to provide an estimate of funds likely available for a pilot project, or request the city include a line-item for the pilot project in the 2015 budget.

The City Council must approve the budget by Sept. 15.

Shelton said there's a need for public transit, but too many unknown factors exist related to how much city resources the council will commit and the specific transit program best for Tupelo.

"With those type complex issues, I don't think the right approach would be simply to include it as a line item in the budget," Shelton said. "I think the council would have to approve going forward with that project giving us authority to enter into a contract with one of these companies and then getting it in the budget."

The city's all-volunteer transportation committee will meet later this month to decide how to proceed.

Read more in Wednesday's Daily Journal.

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