Last night the Helena city commission approved, 3 to 2, the resolution of intent to create a non-motorized transportation district, which would make it easier to get around town on foot or bike by making sidewalk improvements, curbside trails, and bike lane maintenance.
With the commission's approval, protest forms are expected to be sent out to Helena property owners July 24, where they can decide to protest or support the new district. The estimated cost of establishing the district for the fiscal year of 2015 is $105,000.
Commissioner Katherine Haque-Hausrath, who supports creating the district, says funding it will allow for non-motorized transportation to no longer be over looked. Whereas commissioner Dan Ellison says it would put a strain on city funding.
"Unfortunately our general fund..we also have to pay for police and fire and parks out of that," Haque-Hausrath said. "So non-motorized tend to get the short end of the stick in that fund too, so I think that we are fulfilling a real need."
"I think adding one more funding mechanism to the long list of what we saw on tonight's consent agenda, for example, puts a burden on people that I think is not needed," Ellison said.
If the number of protests mailed in exceed 50 percent then the district dies, but if the percentage is less than ten percent, the commission can decide to accept the proposal as is. The commission also unanimously agreed to accept the $40,000 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant, which is shared between Helena and Lewis and Clark county.