Dozens of members of the community stood in a packed Pat Bryson Municipal Hall Thursday night, waiting their turn to express vehement opposition to the Leander City Council’s possible move toward an exit from the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
A proposal on the July 18 agenda would have seen the city contract with former Cedar Park city attorney Leonard B. Smith for legal services regarding the possible withdrawal from CapMetro. Before the meeting began, Mayor Troy Hill decided to table the agenda item amidst possible further discussions with CapMetro. After more than two hours of public comment, the council moved on to other agenda items and said a workshop with CapMetro would be scheduled for a future meeting.
The overwhelming majority of speakers during the public comment period said they wanted the city to remain in the CapMetro system. Most said they moved to Leander because of the availability of public transportation – specifically the rail line.
Among those speaking in support of staying with CapMetro were former elected officials ranging from former mayor John Cowman, former council members Jeff Seiler, Michell Cantwell, Ron Abruzzese, Jason Dishongh, Shanan Shepard and Rob Lederman.
Three speakers asked the council to move toward exiting the CapMetro system, citing costs.
Hill reiterated that the item on Thursday’s council meeting agenda was not for the city to actually exit CapMetro – which would require a vote by the public – but instead was a proposal to hire an attorney to look into the issue.
Hill said the city cannot afford the fee required by CapMetro, arguing it puts the city at a competitive disadvantage.
Hill also said he had spoken recently with CapMetro officials, reporting that there was progress in discussions that might resolve some of his concerns with continued participation. He said it was the first time he has been optimistic about Leander's relationship with CapMetro in a long time.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct order of events at the meeting. Mayor Troy Hill officially tabled the propoal before the public comment period, noting that he had been in contact CapMetro officials to discuss some of his concerns about the existing agreement.