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Westport's Top Board Fully Restores Bus Funds

WESTPORT, Conn. – Westport commuters will still be able to catch a shuttle bus to work next year after the town’s legislative body supported fully funding the Westport Transit District budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

In a unanimous vote, the Representative Town Meeting — or RTM — restored $60,000 that the Board of Finance cut from the transit budget. The finance board originally cut $113,753 in March but then restored $53,000 last month . The RTM vote brings the budget back to $248,000, the original amount requested.

“I think this is such no-brainer,” RTM member John Suggs said Monday night. “I’m befuddled why this even came before us.”

Westport’s bus shuttle system, which provides transportation for commuters, students and the disabled, is operated by the Norwalk Transit District. The finance board said the Westport subsidy was too high in comparison to the ridership.

The partial restoration was meant to motivate transit officials to find ways of making the system more efficient and reduce the Westport subsidy. If at the end of six months progress had been made, the board said it would have considered restoring the rest of the money.

However, many commuters and residents spoke out against the idea.

“Restoring only half the budget — you might as well kill the system,” said resident David Sampson. “Just give it a year.”

RTM member Cathy Talmadge, who made the recommendation to restore the $60,000, said setting a six month budget is not a precedent the town should set.

All other departmental budgets were approved without changes. With the restorartion, a total town budget of $87.8 million was approved. The RTM will finalize the education budget Tuesday night at 7:30.

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