Felton, Scott

Felton

McLennan County commissioners Tuesday approved appointing County Judge Scott Felton to a committee that will guide the formation of the county’s new rural transportation district.

For the county to create the new district, by statute, a nine-member board of elected officials must be created to oversee the process. A member of the commissioners court, also by statute, gets a seat at the table.

County and city officials haven’t figured out how they will narrow down interested participants for the remaining eight seats, but officials say they have time.

County Attorney Mike Dixon said at last week’s meeting — where 13 municipalities unanimously approved a resolution to create the district and establish its boundaries — that the conference committee has less than two months to create the nine-member board before moving to the next step.

Dustin Chapman, a legal adviser to the county, said his office will contact officials from the 24 cities in McLennan County about when the next meeting can be held to pick the remaining eight members.

Felton said the rural transportation district will help residents who need to access education, medical needs and employment.

He said Waco Transit has provided the county with needed information for a proposed plan. Waco Transit contracts with the city of Waco to provide fixed bus routes.

“Right now, there’s two buses dedicated to McLennan County,” Felton said. “Under this rural transit district, and us redirecting (Texas Department of Transportation) funds, it goes from two to 26 units traveling around McLennan County.”

The best part, Felton said, is that the plan won’t cost taxpayers any more money.

County officials plan to reroute the county’s state and federal transit money away from the Heart of Texas Council of Governments, which runs the rural transportation program, to the new transit district. HOTCOG has been using those funds to cover its six-county regional transit program.

“When we bring it in-house, there will be expanded hours, and it also includes Saturday transit, which is not available now. And some people have jobs on weekends and this will help them get to those jobs,” Felton said.

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