Next year, the trolley will not be free, and two parks will exit the organic program, the Durango City Council decided Monday night.
Councilors approved a $1 fare per ride for the trolley after a heated debate.
“It’s a great gimmick,” Mayor Sweetie Marbury said.
She argued lodgers-tax and other sales-tax revenue should be used to fund the trolley for the benefit of the people who live in the city.
However, the other four councilors supported charging for the trolley because it has continually run a deficit. In addition, they noted the variety of reduced-cost passes the city offers to groups in need, including students and low-income residents.
Marbury countered that charging for the trolley would put more pressure on nonprofits that purchase passes for people in need.
The councilors compromised by reducing the price nonprofits pay for day passes. It will be reduced to 45 cents from 90 cents.
The new fare is expected to raise $259,000 to cover the Public Transit System’s operating costs. This factors in an expected drop in ridership that the fare will drive, said Amber Blake, multimodal coordinator.
The $1 trolley fare was selected because it fits into the current rate structure. Passengers will not have to pay to transfer from the trolley to the loop buses, said Kent Harris, transit-operations manager.
Organic parks was also a hot topic.
“This is way harder than the trolley for me,” Councilor Dean Brookie said.
Riverview Sports Complex and Brookside Park will be managed with synthetic chemicals next year, despite a recent heated public meeting. The council selected Riverview Park because the wear and tear from sports had made it difficult for organic treatments to keep the turf healthy. Brookside, the original organic park, will leave the program because it has a high percentage of weeds.
Supporters of the organic park program said they were disappointed by the councilors’ decision. The organic park program was sparked after Organic Parks Durango organized a ballot initiative that would ban synthetic fertilizers and herbicides. In a compromise, the city agreed to use organic methods for three years. So far, only one year has elapsed.
Brookside could have been a park used for public education about the process of going organic, said Chyako Hashimoto, an organic supporter.
Seven parks will remain in the organic program.