Cache County's application for annexation to the Utah Transit Authority's bus service was accepted Wednesday by the UTA board following a public hearing in the Cache County Council chambers.
The formal decision to join UTA will now be made by the Cache County voters in the November election. If voters approve, service would start next August.Representatives of many Cache County organizations were at the meeting to show support for the bus-service proposal. "I believe it is time for Cache Valley to join the Wasatch Front," said Jay Monson, Cache County Council chairman.
"Nothing would weld that linkage stronger, in my opinion, than regular, reasonably priced public transportation between our communities and metro Utah," he said.
Bruce King, Cache County executive, said the council has chosen wisely in supporting the proposal. "As an elected official, I tend to take the view of the overall community," he said. "From an overall perspective, I think this will make Cache Valley a more attractive place to live."
King said he encouraged the board to employ a local operator (a county resident who would oversee the transit system) and keep the operating budget close to home, should the proposal pass in November.
Jay Spencer, Cache County Chamber of Commerce president, said although some concerns exist about easier access to Ogden and Salt Lake City drawing shoppers away from Cache Valley, the chamber supports a mass-transit system within the valley.
Logan Mayor Newel Daines said he has mixed emotions about the proposal. "I'm concerned about the one-quarter percent sales tax increase, but do recognize the problems of transportation. Certainly the voters in Cache Valley should have an opportunity to decide."
A great share of Cache Valley's economic development problems are aggravated by transportation, Daines said.
Only one citizen spoke against the proposal at the hearing. Ila Litz said it isn't fair for the west side of Cache Valley to pay for public transportation when they would be excluded from the transit plan.
"Those small communities will be paying a lot of money for services they won't receive," she said. "I do feel perhaps there is a need for bus service, but feel there needs to be another way to fund it."
Alan Miner, UTA's Cache Valley project manager, said the project's staff had proposed tentative bus routes in Cache Valley and tried to "keep windows open in the routes so the whole county could eventually be served if the proposal is voted in."
Miner said the community had worked hard to come up with a balanced service package that includes an airport run.
Trent Jeppson, UTA board president, said citizens now have a chance to say whether they want to be part of the UTA service by voting in the November elections.