Laredo City Council on Monday voted to approve the city’s $705 million amended budget for the upcoming fiscal year, including changes to paratransit bus fees, cost-of-living salary increases for city employees and a sustained property tax rate that will bring in 4.3 percent more revenue for the city than it did last year.

A proposed tripling in El Lift paratransit bus fees has drawn ire from around the community, since the elderly and handicapped use the transportation service. A $1 ride in 2017 would cost $3.50 in 2018, El Metro proposed.

However, El Metro amended their rate hike to be on a prorated basis. Now, 84 percent of El Lift riders will pay $1.74 for their rides, which covers up to 7 miles on the bus. Fifteen percent of riders will pay $2.50 for rides from 7.1 to 14 miles. A little over 1 percent of riders will be paying the $3.50 for rides over 14 miles.

Rosie Centeno-Hinojosa of the Paratransit Advisory Committee spoke in favor of these rate hikes, and said everyone on the committee but one is in favor too.

More at LMT Online