Ledyard withdrawing from SEAT
Ledyard — Come June, the town will wave goodbye to one of its rarely used forms of mass transportation.
Late last month, the Town Council voted unanimously in favor of withdrawing from the Southeast Area Transit District, as the town faced at least a $2,000 fee hike from the mass transit provider. Currently there are no plans in place to pursue an alternative town-provided transportation option in the absence of SEAT.
Ledyard has been a SEAT member for 43 years but currently has only one SEAT bus route, which travels north and south along Route 12 and sees only two riders per day. That route will continue to run until the end of the fiscal year, June 30.
"It was not an easy decision," said Bill Saums, chairman of the Town Council Finance Committee. “I and the other councilors are totally in favor of mass transportation, but at some point you have to look at the cost of it.”
Saums added that the state's cuts to SEAT's funding ultimately trickle down to the towns, and it becomes more difficult to subsidize mass transportation.
At SEAT’s annual meeting, Mayor Fred Allyn III learned that Ledyard’s annual fee for participating in SEAT was going to increase because of cuts in state funding. Initially, Ledyard’s fee would have been $8,364, a more than $2,000 increase from last year. However, if SEAT was unable to absorb some of the state’s cuts in funding, that fee could have increased to $13,499.
Ultimately, Town Council found that spending that kind of money on a service that very few residents used was just not justifiable, especially given the current financial challenges facing a town known for running a lean budget. The current proposed budget for 2018-19, carries a projected 2.7 mill tax increase and residents will have the opportunity to vote on it May 22.
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