Council twice denies mill levy increase for Topeka Metro

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Topeka city council voted against having you pay more taxes to support the Topeka Metro Tuesday night.

The council twice voted five to four against a mill levy increase. It needed six votes to pass. The first would’ve raised the levy one-mill, the second, a half-mill.

Metro general manager Susan Duffy says without more taxpayer support the Metro could hit a dead end.

"It's been a decade since we've had an increase in the mill levy,” Duffy said.

Several people spoke in favor of expanding the Metro, but it wasn't enough to sway council members Tony Emerson, Sandra Clear, Aaron Mays and Mike Lesser.

"It's just another burden on our tax payers that I was not prepared to shoulder them with,” said Lesser. “I was more than willing and I made the offer to make a compromise."

Duffy says they tried to reach an agreement but couldn't without losing their quality of service.

They wanted the increase to add one or two more routes and expand service later in the evenings and on Sunday.

Sylvia Ortiz, who voted in favor, says people need those options to get to and from work.

"I am not for raising taxes but it's really not that much,” said Ortiz. “If it benefits everyone and we can get them to and from work, I think that's just a positive step forward that we need to do."

Despite the council's vote Duffy has this message for riders.

"We will be there tomorrow morning to pick you up,” she said. “We will do our level best to provide the quality of service that you expect and you have been receiving."

Duffy says she does not want to raise fares. In 2011, the fare increased by 60 percent and they lost a large number of riders.