City Council votes to create citizens’ committee to oversee new transportation plan

Expanding local bus service is one the top priorities of Transportation 2050. (Lee Goodrum/DD)
Expanding local bus service is one of the top priorities of Transportation 2050. City Council voted to create a Citizens’ Transportation Commission to oversee the implementation of the plan. (Lee Goodrum/DD)

City Council began the process of implementing the voter-approved transportation plan, which will be funded through a sales tax, on Tuesday.

In the first official step for Proposition 104, officially known as Transportation 2050, City Council unanimously voted to create the Citizens’ Transportation Commission to oversee the plan’s implementation.

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The commission, which will have 15 members, is designed to increase transparency and government accountability by reviewing appropriations and making recommendations to City Council on Transportation 2050 expenditures.

All members of the commission must be Phoenix residents. An exception will be allowed for two possible experts from elsewhere in Maricopa County — amended down from four exceptions originally proposed by Deputy City Manager Mario Paniagua’s panel after Councilwoman Thelda Williams, District 1, and Councilman Jim Waring, District 2, expressed concern about having too many outside voices on a Phoenix government commission.

One member will be appointed from each of the eight districts, two from the city at large, and the remaining five from different segments of the population to ensure diversity.

One third of members will serve a one year term, one third will serve for two years, and the remaining third will serve for three years to create a staggering of reappointments. All subsequent terms will be for three years, and any candidate may serve for a maximum of two three-year terms. Those appointees who receive one or two-year initial terms will not have those terms counted against their total, so one person could serve for a maximum of eight years.

Councilmembers will appoint a commission member from each of their respective districts; the Mayor’s office will appoint the rest. All appointees must be confirmed by a City Council vote.

Transportation officials were eager to establish the commission as quickly as possible to begin laying the bureaucratic groundwork ahead of the Jan. 1 rollout of the new tax.

Transportation 2050 will increase Phoenix city sales tax by 0.3 percent, and is expected to raise $16.7 billion over its 35-year lifespan to pay for increased investment in the city’s public transportation infrastructure, including expanding light rail and bus service and improving street maintenance.

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Paniagua said public transit will help foster the city’s sense of community.

“(Transportation 2050) needs to be an environment about bringing people from all different backgrounds and all different cultures together, and having a little bit of fun along the way,” he said.

Contact the reporter at lgoodrum@asu.edu.