Montgomery County Legislature unsure of CDTA

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FONDA – The Montgomery County Legislature will be sending a contentious resolution to support returning the Capital District Transportation Authority’s bus service committee to the county for further discussion.

Officials and organizations in the region have been active this year in seeking the support of heads of state to push to bring CDTA services to the region. The public utility company created by the state legislature has studied the region’s transport needs and supports the expansion of bus services locally.

The CDTA has drawn up tentative plans to offer a route serving the dense residential areas and employment centers of the city of Amsterdam and Montgomery County. The route would also connect to Schenectady and offer transfer options to buses reaching Albany.

Although the service is partially funded by bus tickets, the state subsidizes the cost of transportation services and state officials are expected to approve an annual allowance of $ 5 million to create a local route. The county is also expected to provide a share of the support through an annual contribution of $ 300,000 from the collection of mortgage taxes.

Actual approval of local funding for the service and adjustment of details of bus routes would come later in the process. The current focus is on demonstrating service support to encourage the state to consider providing the $ 5 million share. Local officials obtained letters of support for the service from organizations and agencies in the region. Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort called for a resolution of support from the County Legislature earlier this month, which was tabled at the August 3 meeting, as officials discussed the use county funding for buses that would be centered in Amsterdam.

When the Legislature resumed discussion on Tuesday, Ossenfort said additional information had been shared with lawmakers and more details would be provided.

“We’ve peeled the onion one layer at a time on this issue and what the impact will be from a financial standpoint,” Ossenfort said.

One of the sticking points for lawmakers during the initial discussion was the need to eventually approve the allocation of $ 300,000 in county mortgage taxes.

District 4 lawmaker Robert Headwell, Jr. previously said transferring funds to a centralized service in Amsterdam would be unfair to small communities like Charleston who would likely be excluded from any new bus route.

District 6 lawmaker John Duchessi and District 9 lawmaker Robert Purtell at the time argued that the entire county would benefit from enhanced links to the Capital Region and improved transportation to support new businesses and existing.

They went on to say that the potential for one community to benefit more than another should not be part of the consideration when Amsterdam and its residents are part of the county and should be supported as such.

Ossenfort noted on Tuesday that the county had gathered information on the methods used by other communities to provide the required mortgage tax levels to the CDTA to provide transportation services. These options include approving a modest increase in the county mortgage tax.

In a previous attempt to bring CDTA to the region in 2019, Ossenfort suggested that an increase in the mortgage tax rate of 0.75% of about 0.5% would be sufficient to fully cover the share of local funding without any reallocation.

Ossenfort recommended that lawmakers refer the resolution in favor of CCTA membership to the Economic Development and Planning Committee to consider the new information.

“We have some of this information, but it is not complete. I think the best course of action right now is to wait tonight, ”said Ossenfort.

President Michael Pepe withdrew his sponsorship from the resolution to automatically send the bill to committee for further discussion.

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