Fort Collins community members advocate for Sunday bus service, affordable housing at City Council meeting

Nataleah Small

Community members expressed support for a Sunday bus service, bike initiatives and affordable housing during the Fort Collins City Council’s public hearing on the 2017-2018 city budget Tuesday night.

Twenty citizens came before the council to show support for the proposed budget measures.

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The expansion of the city bus system to provide a Sunday bus service and funding for the Fort Collins bike initiative received widespread support from community members speaking at the meeting. Citizens also vocalized their support for an increase in affordable housing within the city.

Community member Mark Brewer spoke on behalf of the homeless community in Fort Collins and vocalized his support for the Sunday bus service. Brewer advocated that the system would benefit homeless community members that utilize the service to get to and from work.

“Many homeless people have jobs and rely on the public transportation system,” Brewer said.

Community member Kayleigh McGonagall stated that she supported the Sunday bus service, measure 67.11, because it would help provide transportation for the city’s aging population. McGonagall said that although seniors in the Fort Collins community do have the time and resources to advocate for the Sunday bus services, she acknowledged the importance of speaking on their behalf.

“[We have the] responsibility to take care of residents throughout their lifetime,” McGonagall said.

Kristine Kistco said she supported the Sunday bus service because as a mother, she would feel safer knowing that Sunday bus services are available to young people. However, Kistco said he had concerns regarding the lack of equity with city budgets in general. She said budgets often over represent the privileged and under represent artists, uneducated community members, women, children and blue collar workers.

Community members present also supported increasing bike infrastructure, measure 31.22.

Community member William Hickey said that carbon emissions have been dropping in Fort Collins, but emphasized that the community could improve.

“We need to invest in multi-modal transportation,” Hickey said.

Community member Mark Kinneker vocalized his support for the biking measure and stated that, overall, he is in favor of budget measures that provide support for low-income community members. Kinneker said that he appreciated the “richness of Fort Collins” and understood the need for providing services that accommodate all community members.

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Community member Marisela Armendariz spoke in favor of affordable housing initiatives in Fort Collins. Armendariz stated that she has raised her children in “precarious housing conditions,” yet her children have been successful due to the generosity of community members.

Armendariz asked the council to favor measures benefitting single mothers so that they could provide for their children and give them access to a good education.

One community member read a letter on behalf of a Hispanic resident requesting more affordable housing.

In the letter, the resident said it has been embarrassing to continue asking for refuge from community members due to the lack of affordable services in the city.

Other community members requested that the city fund social service organizations to address housing instability.

At the end of the public hearing segment, council members acknowledged audience comments and thanked community members for their participation and input.

“Your voices are important…it’s all of our budget,” said Kristin Stephen, district 4 council member.

The council also acknowledged the amount of work that still needs to be done before the budget vote in November.

“[There is a] tremendous amount of work,” said Ray Martinez, district 2 council member. “(We need) patience. Understand that you can only spend so much. You can only do so much.”

Martinez said that the city government has the best interests of its citizens in mind and values community input on budget measures.

“We love to hear from people, this is important,” Martinez said.

Next Tuesday, Sept. 27, city council will hold a work session on budget measures. There will also be presentations on transportation and culture, community safety and recreation.

Collegian reporter Nataleah Small can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @nateleahjoy.