Leander voters to decide on keeping CapMetro as city partner in upcoming election

The decision to keep Leander as a city partner of CapMetro is now in the hands of the voters. 

Proposition A would not just stop trains and commuter buses from arriving at CapMetro's Leander station. Rides on the in-city pick up service would also end. 

That loss worries people like June Collins and DeAnne Hubbard.

"They need to think of the seniors. We don’t have cars, we need a way to go places a lot of times, my daughter lives here but can't always come and get me," said Hubbard.

Early Voting starts April 25. Collins told FOX 7 the apartment complex she lives at has a bus for residents, but its use is limited. She called CapMetro’s Mini Bus Pick Up service "a God send," and without it, she would have to stay home.

Leander officials are working on an alternative transportation plan if ties are cut with CapMetro. The plan is to respond to Proposition B, which also has to be approved by voters. It would recapture the tax money sent to CapMetro.

"This would be the equivalent of having a whole other police department in terms of funding," said City Manager Rick Beverlin.

Beverlin said the amount sent to CapMetro last year was a little more than $9 million.

"I wouldn’t necessarily call it a windfall, but it would be a paradigm shift," said Beverlin.

The shift of money could pay for extra staffing, economic development, infrastructure projects and fund a new transit plan to replace some of what CapMetro provided.

"We would view this as an interim service, knowing that we might actually have more providers as an option including other public providers that might be willing to bid after the capitol metro vote," said Beverlin.

Leander has paid a lot of money into the transit agency. City officials say since 1985, the amount of sales tax contribution totals $64 million. In the next 10 years, the amount is project to be $164 million because of growth.

The CapMetro board of directors, on Monday, approved its own plan. This one was done to keep the trains rolling and prevent a Leander bail-out from happening.

On Thursday, Leander accepted the deal, which is expected to factor into the May election. The 10-year deal brings Leander into what's called the Build Central Texas Program. It provides an annual funding source of about $2 million this year.

The deal also gives Leander about $7 million from a fund that supports local communities.

"I hope that this isn’t just a point in tie, but this is the start of and beginning of something bigger, that we can build on, for being a true regional partner, for Leander, yes," said board member Eric Stratton.

This deal goes away if voters decide to leave CapMetro.

The tax payments to CapMetro will continue for about four years even if voters decide to leave the agency. That’s because the city has to pay off $40 million in commitments to the agency. 

If Proposition B fails, the sales tax sent to CapMetro ends after the financial commitment is paid. That would result in a drop in Leander’s sales tax rate.

For more information on Proposition A: CapMetro continuation, click here.

For more information on Proposition B: General Revenue Sales Tax, click here.

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