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A 'NO-BRAINER' Commissioners on Wednesday asked why Manatee County was not participating in funding the new line, since it will run along the border of the two counties. "This one should be supported by both [ M a n a t e e a n d S a r a s o t a ] c o u n t i e s , " Commissioner Nora Patterson pointed out. Carter reported that she did reach out to Manatee County officials and that funding the route was not a priority for them. "The University route is needed," said Chairman Charles Hines. "It is a no-brainer with what is going on there." But Sarasota County should not be the only local government footing the bill, Hines added. Manatee County residents will bene- fit from this addition; therefore, they should help cover the cost, he said. "A large por- tion of the users will be from Manatee, and Sarasota County will be subsidizing that route," Hines noted. He asked county staff to continue to explore the possibility of a combined funding effort with Manatee. Patterson pointed out that, in the past, the Manatee County Commission had expressed a willingness to help pay for a University Parkway route. THE TRADEOFF Commissioner Joe Barbetta called the deci- sion to approve the new route a "tough one" because other services have to be cut. "But we need the new route," he added. Although she felt some "heartache" in agree- ing to the cuts, Patterson added, the reality is that routes with lower ridership had to be eliminated if the commissioners were going to add new SCAT service. "If we are going to privatize, trust me that is what would hap- pen," Patterson noted. Vice Chairwoman Christine Robinson — who cast the lone "No" vote — found fault with the plan to cut 90X routes, which provide ser- vice to North Port, Venice and Sarasota. She said she felt those routes, which were added recently, were not adequately advertised to residents; thus, they were not highly utilized. She did not want to see them eliminated before they had a chance to build ridership. Robinson represents South County interests on the board. The Mall at University Town Center will be across the street from another shopping complex and just down the road from Nathan Benderson Park. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader March 7, 2014 Page 49

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