Carrboro Board of Alderman member Diana McDuffee said Chapel Hill Town Council members did not seek input from the board or the University before reaching their decision.
"We're concerned about (the lack of) unilateral decisions," she said.
Because the Chapel Hill Transit Authority is jointly funded by Chapel Hill, Carrboro and UNC, a joint decision-making process exists which requires input from all three parties before reaching a decision.
But council member Flicka Bateman expressed regret for the council's failure to seek input from aldermen before making the final decision on transit advertising.
"I think it was an oversight and not an attempt, by any means, to exclude them," she said. "I think it's important to include partners."
The decision marks the third time in six years council members have voted against allowing such advertisements.
McDuffee said board members and UNC officials must be a part of any decisions regarding the transit authority.
She cited the implementation of fare-free busing as an example of previous collaborative decisions made by Chapel Hill, Carrboro and UNC officials.
"In the end, getting fare-free busing happened with all three partners involved," McDuffee said.
Chapel Hill Transit buses will become fare-free on Jan. 1.
Fare-free buses will be funded by Chapel Hill and Carrboro transit funds and by an $8.49 increase in undergraduate student fees per semester and $1.49 per credit hour during summer school sessions.
The fee increases are expected to go into effect by next fall.
But council member Joyce Brown said the decision against the advertisement proposal will not affect fare-free bus service.
"It has nothing to do with fare-free busing," she said.
Both Bateman and Brown said the council originally had intended for advertising funds to go toward researching alternative fuel vehicles, but in rejecting the proposal they might need to find other sources of funding for research.
Bateman said she is pleased with the decision and that the council will continue to seek federal aid and grants for alternative fuel research.
"The cause is a good one, but we felt the methods were not in line with the values of our community," Bateman said.
Under the proposal, 55 percent of the revenue generated by the advertisements would have been distributed among Chapel Hill, Carrboro and UNC.
But McDuffee said the decision was not an issue of money but rather a question of how to institute better communication between the three parties.
"We need to put in place a different structure to make decisions," she said. "There is no mechanism for the other partners to hear the presentations and provide input."
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