Morgan » Officials in tiny Morgan County, population 10,000, are proposing to join the Utah Transit Authority district — but a long line of residents attacked the move Wednesday at a standing-room-only public hearing with the UTA Board.
"I don’t think we need it," said resident Steve Rich to applause, adding that most residents handle their own transportation needs and help needy neighbors with trips. Resident Sue Craven worried the service could bring "tramps and vagrants" to the town.
Others said a sales tax increase for UTA service would hurt businesses. Some said Morgan would not be getting much service for the taxes proposed. Others complained about high salaries of UTA executives. Few spoke in favor of the proposal.
Jim Bledsoe of Mountain Green said, as did others, "I don’t think I should be taxed to help someone else get down the canyon."
The Morgan County Council is not seeking traditional UTA bus service. Instead, it wants UTA to provide a new sort of hybrid van pool for commuters from the rural mountain county to key points along the Wasatch Front. "What is proposed doesn’t exist anywhere else," said UTA Chief Operating Officer Jerry Benson.
The new van service would let up to 10 commuters per van reserve a seat daily for $100 a month, but keep five or more seats open in each van for others to buy single-ride tickets for $5.50. The service would start with such key destinations as Weber State University, Hill Air Force Base, Ogden and Salt Lake City.
Also an in-community shuttle is proposed especially to help the elderly, disabled and veterans. UTA would provide a wheelchair-accessible paratransit vehicle that would be driven by volunteers, and would provide both scheduled and on-demand service. Fares would be based on donations. It is based on a similar shuttle in Tooele.
For such services, the County Council is proposing to create a transit sales tax of 0.3 percent — just under a third of a cent per dollar. The county projects that would cost $21.33 per resident per year. It would raise $201,000 in revenue.
UTA board member Robert Hunter told the crowd it will consider comments from county residents and decide soon whether it favors the annexation. If the UTA Board proceeds, Morgan County residents would need to approve the sales tax in the November election.
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