LEANDER, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Leander City Council was expected to make a decision about whether to move forward with plans to leave the future of CapMetro services up to voters. However, council members decided only to hold a public comment period on the matter instead of proceeding with that plan.
City leaders also scheduled a workshop to have council and CapMetro meet on August 22 to continue ongoing discussions. More than 40 people signed up to speak at the meeting and the majority did not want to end CapMetro services, although some did ask the city to renegotiate the deal.
“My husband and I moved to Leander a year ago from Austin, and we moved here specifically because of the public transportation,” said Ellie Hoyt, who spoke against ending CapMetro services at the council meeting.
“What it does for me is it allows me to work an hour on the bus each way and I only have to be at work six or seven hours instead of what it used to be, 10 to 12 hours with transit back-and-forth,” Cliff Hall said about his commute on CapMetro buses.
There are some expensive requirements if the city does eventually stop those services. CapMetro said state law would require Leander pay a multi-million dollar exit fee.
Earlier this week, the mayor said if they withdraw, the city may try to start its own bus service or negotiate a smaller amount paid to CapMetro. Last year, Leander contributed about $5 million and the mayor said he thinks that’s too much for the amount of services provided to them.
However, CapMetro said state law sets the rate, and they cannot change it.
“I understand where the mayor is coming from wanting to change the amount that he contributes in sales tax to the Capital Metro, unfortunately, that’s illegal under the Texas Transportation Code. The code is very set in stone, as is the constitution, as to setting a regular and normal amount across-the-board as to what every entity within the region actually pays into the system,” said Eric Stratton, a board member for CapMetro representing Williamson County.
CapMetro said they met with the mayor before Thursday’s council meeting to discuss additional service possibilities. Council is expected to consider that as well as public comments before the work session in August.