Week ahead: Council votes on fracking and budgets; activists promote bus riding

Rochester City Council will consider a fracking moratorium, and will also vote on the city and school district budgets at Council’s meeting on Tuesday night. It’s at City Hall, 30 Church Street.

The city’s Planning Commission has backed a one-year moratorium on natural gas exploration and extraction in Rochester, but that is only an advisory opinion. The proposal needs Council’s approval to take effect. The legislation that Council will vote on says that there hasn’t been sufficient research into the impact of fracking in urban areas, and that the process “may pose a significant threat to the health, safety, and welfare” of residents and visitors.

Council will also hold public hearings on the city and school district budgets before voting on them.

The city’s 2012-2013 proposed budget reduces the tax rate, but includes increases in water, parking, and other fees. The Democrat and Chronicle reported late last week, however, that Mayor Tom Richards has reduced the proposed parking-fee hike. The budget would also fund recruit classes for the police and fire departments.

For the first time, the city school district is proposing a budget that exceeds $700 million. Superintendent Bolgen Vargas says he wants to add music, art, and physical education teachers, but has recently cut special-education teachers (many could be hired back, but there’s no guarantee). City Council members questioned Vargas for several hours last week on everything from graduation rates to test scores to students’ emotional needs.

The Council meeting begins with a public forum at 6:30 p.m. The full meeting is at 7:30 p.m. – Christine Carrie Fien

Thursday is ROC Transit Day, a campaign intended to get drivers to try taking the bus.

Reconnect Rochester – a local advocacy group that promotes mass transit, walking, biking, rail, and other alternatives to the automobile –is organizing the campaign, and the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority is working alongside it. Throughout the day, volunteers will lead local bus excursions to events including concerts, a happy hour, and a Red Wings game. They’ll also provide guidance to first-time bus riders, says a press release for ROC Transit Day.

There will also be random prize giveaways on board the buses, and riders will be able to take advantage of discount offers at local businesses, as long as they show a used fare card. Reconnect Rochester and RGRTA have been giving out free all-day bus passes in advance of Thursday’s event.

More information about ROC Transit Day, route maps, and a list of participating businesses are available at roctransitday.com.


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