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Westport Restores Part of Public Transit Budget

WESTPORT, Conn. – Despite demands from dozens of Westport commuters who urged the Board of Finance to fully fund the town’s public transit service , the Transit District budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year will be $60,000 lighter than proposed.

After a motion to fully restore the $113,753 the finance board cut last month failed in a 5-2 vote, the board unanimously approved the restoration of $53,000 on Wednesday night. This brings the total transit budget to $188,000 — $60,000 less than the $248,000 sought. Board Vice Chairman Helen Garten and Michael Rea voted in favor of full restoration.

Finance board member John Pincavage, who proposed restoring $53,000, said the board is not looking to eliminate public transportation in Westport. Instead, he said the board is interested in reducing Westport’s subsidy for these services, operated by the Norwalk Transit District.

As a condition of the restoration, the board requested that transit district officials, over the next six months, find ways to make the system more efficient. If significant progress is made by the transit district in six months, the board said it would revisit its budget and add the additional $60,000. If not, commuter bus services in Westport could end in January.

Until then, board members said shuttle services will continue to operate as they do now. The Representative Town Meeting, the town's legislative body, can overturn the finance board's decision and restore the full $113,000 during its review of the town budget in May.

In addition, the board voted to restore $17,000 to the public works budget. These adjustments bring the overall town budget up to $188,141,587.

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