(Host) A public hearing at the Statehouse on Tuesday night could determine how fast a plan to consolidate some district transportation offices moves forward. The Douglas administration wants to reduce the number of administrative districts from nine to six – a move that would save roughly $750,000 and eliminate about a dozen jobs. It’s the first step of a larger proposal to consolidate operations at the agency.
But a number of lawmakers oppose the plan because they believe it will lead to a reduction of road maintenance services – a charge the administration denies. The administration was hoping to include the plan in this year’s Budget Adjustment bill. That legislation that will be on the House floor for debate on Thursday.
But opponents of the idea want to delay consideration of the proposal for several months. Transportation committee chairman Richard Westman says his panel will be greatly influenced by the testimony given at the public hearing:
(Westman) “I need to spend some time listening to people who know more than I do. I think that the two most important things for us, at least for me, are, is this going to affect the safety of the people driving on the road? And what kind of services are the communities out there that avail themselves of services from these districts going to get? And it basically comes down to that.”
(Host) If there’s a lot of public testimony against the proposal, Westman says it’s unlikely that his committee will support efforts to have the full House vote on the changes this week.
The public hearing will be at seven o’clock on Tuesday night at the Statehouse.