Columbia Finalizes New Budget

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COLUMBIA - After a lot of work and much debate, the Columbia City Council gave the Fiscal Year 2012 budget it's unanimous seal of approval Monday night. The new budget will go into effect October 1st.

The current iteration of the city budget has come under a lot of fire for it's service cuts to the public transit system, but most of those cuts were restored. Now, there is only one service cut: buses will end routes one hour early on Thursday and Friday nights - where ridership was 4.8 people per ride.

Though public transit will remain accessible to the public, folks wanting to ride will have to pay more.

Regular fares increase from $1 - $1.50, student fares increase from $0.50 - $0.75 - and any student 18 or older is no longer eligible for the student price - and students will now have to pay $100 for a semester pass instead of $60.

Also included in the new budget: a 25-cent-per-hour raise for all city employees, an 8% increase in water rates and a 15% increase in sewer rates for Columbia residents.