The Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Board moved Wednesday to table a request to add TAPS Public Transit projects to the organization’s four-year and 25-year plans. This was in response to issues that occurred during a public hearing Tuesday night regarding the amendment.
SDMPO Director Clay Barnett said the issues arose when it was discovered that the front doors at Sherman City Hall, the location of the hearing, were locked during the meeting. Barnett said he was alerted of the issue by an attendee who left the meeting earlier and saw someone trying to enter the building.
“Our council with Grayson County has advised that we postpone this item until such time that we can have that public hearing,” Barnett said, adding that he expects the hearing to take place in January.
The amendment would add $1.28 million of public transit projects to the SDMPO’s short and long-range plans as a transportation alternative project. This represents both state and federal funding that the organization would receive through 5307 urbanized area funding.
“Basically it has to do with transit operations within Sherman and Denison,” Transdev Assistant General Manager Josh Walker said during Tuesday’s hearing.
The $1.28 million includes $256,000 in federal funding for transit operations and $615,000 for administrative costs. The plan also includes $248,000 in state funding for transit operations and $162,000 in local match funds. In total, TAPS is budgeted for $2.7 million in the current fiscal year, Walker said in October.
Under federal requirements, TAPS is required to collaborate with the local SDMPO during planning and include these projects in transit planning. These projects would then need to be approved by the SDMPO board, giving the organization some oversight.
Barnett said this is the first time in recent memory that TAPS has come forward and participated in planning. When asked Tuesday night why TAPS failed to comply with the federal requirements previously, Walker said he didn’t have an answer, and attributed it to previous leadership.
“I know TAPS had a lot of problems and they are working very diligently to mend that hole,” Barnett said.
Other questions during the hearing centered around how these funds would be spent and if there would be any outside oversight into TAPS’ spending.
“This is just getting off of the ground and part of getting us started again,” Walker said, describing the participation with SDMPO as “part of keeping the wheels of the bus.”