CLAYTON, Mo. – In a stunning move, the St. Louis County Council has deadlocked on funding for the area’s transit operator, the Bi-State Development Agency.
The agency had requested $128.5 million in funding to run Metro bus, light rail, and other transportation services.
The vote was 3-3 and split along party lines, with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans opposed to the measure.
“Well, it was quite a surprise to me. To be honest with you, I did not know that there was some problems with the budget or that some of the members had some challenges with the budgets. I didn’t know that. So, when it failed on a 3-3 vote, I was very surprised,” Councilwoman Rita Heard Days said.
“I will say we have to make sure that we get some kind of resolution to that. As you well know, a lot of my citizens depend on public transportation to get to work, doctors’ visits, and things like that, so we really have to have a robust transportation system.”
One Democrat, Lisa Clancy, was absent from the meeting. She likely would have voted for the measure. Days said she was caught off guard and cannot understand Republicans’ opposition.
“Well, I don’t know what that was. They had not done that before,” she said. “It might be that we did not have an opportunity to visit with Bi-State as we have previously to get some questions answered. We didn’t have that opportunity this time, so perhaps that was it. They had questions that were not answered. “
Councilman Mark Harder, who voted against funding the Bi-State budget request, said the transit agency has not been forthcoming with providing details to the council, so its members can make informed decisions.
“We were supposed to receive this budget back in June of this year. That’s the normal progression,” he said. “We receive it around that time; we are able to have a meeting, discuss it, talk about plans, talk about their future, what they’re going to use the money for, and so on, and so we never got that meeting.”
Harder expressed concern about Bi-State’s cuts to Call-A-Ridge.
“They made some major cuts to Call-A-Ride, which services our senior community as well as people that are challenged,” he said.
FOX 2 contacted the office of Bi-State President and CEO Taulby Roache for comment. A spokesman for the office said they’re surprised by the deadlock but will work with the council to answer any questions members may have.
Both sides of the county council expect to resolve the issue and pass the budget for Bi-State.