Zionsville Times Sentinel

County

January 29, 2014

Lebanon, Zionsville officials back transit bills

Zionsville Town Council President Jeff Papa and Lebanon Mayor Huck Lewis have joined officials from 16 other central Indiana communities to encourage the Indiana General Assembly to develop “a robust mass transit system.”Lewis and Papa are members of the 18-member Regional Council of Elected Officials, from cities and towns in the Indianapolis metro region.

The RCEO said in a media release that it was “encouraged” after the bi-partisan House-Senate Transit Study Committee voted 12-1 to expand mass transit. Bills have been filed in both chambers of the General Assembly.

Sens. Pat Miller and Brent Waltz have filed SB 176; Rep. Jerry Torr has filed HB 1034.

The Miller-Waltz plan calls for shifting some transit costs from income tax to businesses and transit users. It also allows county councils in Delaware, Hamilton, Johnson, Madison and Marion counties to hold voter referendums on whether to establish a transit system.

It’s that aspect of local control that Lewis favors.“In the near future, I don’t know what the impact would be,” Lewis said. “This isn’t necessarily about mass transit or not mass transit. It’s about letting local government decide if they want it, or they don’t want it.”“I think, as we grow, it’s going to be important that we look at mass transit,” Lewis said. “Are we there today? I don’t know. It would just depend on where it goes and how it would operate, and the total cost for us to do that.”Any mass transit system with a terminus in Lebanon would be bus-based, Lewis said.

Papa said he couldn’t comment directly on the legislation, because he is chief of staff for Senate President Pro Tem David Long.

The town contributes to Boone County Senior Services, Inc., to help with the agency’s Boone Area Transit System.“I think the need for seniors to be transported to pharmacies and other essential services, that’s why the town contributes,” Papa said.

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