BILOXI -- Faced with cuts in service to seniors, the disabled and other riders, the Biloxi Council on Tuesday voted 4-3 to provide an additional $65,000 to Coast Transit Authority this year.
That maintains Sunday service and Route 31 in East Biloxi, which Coast Transit said would have to be cut. Service to Keesler Air Force Base Monday through Thursday will be eliminated because of low ridership, said Kevin Coggin, executive director of CTA.
Voting in favor of the additional money were council members Felix Gines, Dixie Newman, Paul Tisdale and Robert Deming III. Voting against were George Lawrence, Kenny Glavan and David Fayard.
For the past two months, dozens of people who ride CTA told the council how they depend on CTA to get to work, shopping, doctors and church.
Gines said people in East Biloxi depend on the service to get to work and Newman said she couldn't deny the service to the elderly and disabled in her ward.
"I'm totally against paying anybody an extra $65,000 right now," Lawrence said. This allocation is in addition to the $280,000 the city approved for the fiscal year and Lawrence said, "Me, I think that's enough."
Fayard said there are no buses in Ward 7, which he represents, and few in Ward 6. It's unfair to taxpayers who share the cost of a service when they get no benefit, he said.
Glavan suggested local casinos share the cost of the Casino Hopper. Those are the most-used of the CTA buses, which transport more than 22,000 a month during peak times, said Coggin. Most of the Biloxi casinos are owned by Las Vegas companies, he said, and they don't subsidize mass transit there.
"Maybe they should in Biloxi," said Glavan.
Coggin said Biloxi cut $70,000 from its contribution to CTA a couple of years ago. He requested $130,000 and said he would come back to Biloxi for another increase if he can't find a way to make up the funding.
In other action:
n The council scheduled a workshop on an extension for HNTB, the company that is overseeing the city's infrastructure project, for Tuesday at 11 a.m. and a workshop on tax abatements for March 11 at 5 p.m. A Ward 2 meeting will be Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. All are at City Hall.
n Robert "Bones" Barq told the council he is organizing petition drives at area businesses and online to honor Biloxi native and former New York Mets catcher Barry Lyons by naming the field at the minor league baseball stadium "Barry Lyons Field." He said Lyons has worked on getting a minor league stadium for 12 years and needs to be honored with more than a plaque.