JEFFERSON CITY - Residents of Wards 1 and 2 in Jefferson City voiced their concerns and questioned their city council representatives Saturday morning.
Many attendees stressed the need for the city to extend the hours for JeffTran so people who use the bus system could work later hours and spoke about how important public transportation is to many residents.
"If they had a certain time that they could come and pick up the stragglers that had went to work on the bus and couldn't get back. If they could figure out some common place between all those places that they could catch that ride back to their homes or at least close," Mary Cross said.
"We don't want public transportation to be the first thing, everytime we have to cut the budget, that's the first thing to look at, can we cut some routes," Reverend Jeanie McGowan said.
Ward 2 Councilman Shawn Schulte said the city is trying to provide the best bus service it can while taking into consideration the current budget for JeffTran.
"We just need to look at creative ways to continue to improve the efficiency of JeffTran so we can meet more of those needs in the future," he said. Several people at the meeting suggested creating a commission that would evaluate the JeffTran situation. Schulte said he supports the idea of creating a committee which includes both proponents and opponents of JeffTran who would discuss the issues surrounding JeffTran.
Meeting attendees also questioned council members and the city attorney about the proposed Capital Mall improvements. Attendees said they were concerned the Community Improvement District's (CID) one-percent tax would scare away customers. But, the City Attorney and Schulte said after looking at the numbers and getting advice from people who specialize in the field, they believe it will help the mall and community.
"So many places have these things already that generally it's believed that one-percent tax doesn't scare off anybody," City Attorney Drew Hilpert said. "Ultimately, the goal is the taxpayer is better off because the mall is improved, they've got a better shopping experience, they've got more stores to choose from and then there's additional revenue coming back to the city to provide more services."
"It will remain flat for a period of time, or level, steady, at the base, and then as the mall continues to grow, the city then will start to see the benefits from increased revenues from sales and property tax," Schulte said.
Another big topic of conversation was the location of a potential conference center in Jefferson City. Multiple residents spoke in favor of building it in the downtown area. They said a downtown location would allow conference attendees to walk to the Capitol building, local restaurants and area businesses.
It was the third meeting of its kind in Jefferson City, and council members and attendees both said they were grateful for the opportunity to meet.
"It helps them to hear these things really bother us, and concern us, and we don't want you to forget that," McGowan said.
"I appreciate the citizens of Ward 1 and 2 spending their morning with us and sharing their thoughts and ideas with what's going on within wards 1 and 2 and the city as a whole," Schulte said.