Voters decide propositions in 10 cities in Fort Worth area
Posted Tuesday, Nov. 02, 2010
BY GORDON DICKSON
Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/11...itions-in.html
Voters in Richland Hills appeared ready Tuesday to stay in the Fort Worth Transportation Authority and continue an 18-year tradition of bus and commuter rail service in their city.
With early voting and six of seven precincts reporting, the proposition asking voters whether they wanted to stay in the T was passing with 62 percent of the vote. The high-profile debate over the value of mass transit attracted 2,125 residents, or nearly 45 percent of 4,802 registered voters, with one precinct remaining.
The early totals included 1,035 people who cast ballots in early voting, according to incomplete and unofficial results.
"I have faith in the citizens that they can see what's logically right and wrong, bad and good, and when it's right they'll stay in," said T President Dick Ruddell, who added that the vote clears the way for road improvements and development around Richland Hills Station.
Richland Hills was among 10 cities in the greater Fort Worth area where voters decided a plethora of propositions Tuesday, including: legalizing alcohol sales in areas that were dry, reauthorizing sales taxes for street repairs, approving bonds to pay for new municipal buildings and giving elected municipal leaders longer terms.
The decision by Richland Hills residents to stay in the T was being hailed by transit proponents, who say it proves that despite calls for government belt-tightening, North Texans consider transportation improvements a crucial step toward improving their quality of life. This is especially true, they said, of improvements that reduce the number of people on freeways in single-occupant vehicles.
The T collects a half-cent sales tax in Richland Hills, and provides on-request bus service, transit for mobility-impaired people and a Trinity Railway Express station.
"For our side, it doesn't look that good, but the encouraging thing is a whole bunch of people turned out. It's amazing," said Councilman Larry Marrs, who has led the city's effort to explore alternatives to the T's service. Marrs and others argued that the city doesn't get enough value for its $600,000 to $800,000 annual sales tax contribution, and they have pushed to hire an outside contractor to provide shuttle service for a limited number of residents.
The debate bitterly divided elected leaders during the past year. In Richland Hills, all five council members favored alternatives to the T, while Mayor David Ragan pushed to keep T service.
But on Tuesday night, Ragan said, "Let's have a healing period and move on."