FAIRMONT - Annie Boeckmann stood quietly before the podium Monday, addressing the Fairmont City Council with her plea for affordable transportation.
Slowly building up to her case, Boeckmann told the story of AT&T, a telephone company that started small but grew quickly, until the government intervened to create more competition and thus lower the market price for consumers.
"We have a similar situation here in Fairmont," said Boeckmann, who has no car and a limited income.
"It cost me $5 to come down here and tell you this," she said.
Boeckmann said she often relies on the generosity of friends and family, takes the bus and or calls a taxi to drive her where she needs to go.
"But we only have one taxi service, and they just raised their fee," she said. "If we had more than one, maybe there would be better prices."
It's an ongoing feud: Sonny's Taxi Cab versus Dee's Taxi Service.
This year, Fairmont's only four taxi licenses all went to Sonny, since Dee did not step forward to stake her claim by the city's deadline.
Since then, owners, drivers and loyal patrons for both businesses have appeared before the City Council, but on Monday, the council members agreed to take action. They had previously asked city staff to research whether they could add more licenses, and the answer it seems, is yes. But first City Code must be changed.
"I thought we agreed to put it on the agenda," said Councilman Joe Kallemeyn.
The council's next meeting is 5:30 p.m. May 14, when it will set a hearing for June to change the ordinance.
"Unfortunately, it does take some time," an apologetic Kallemeyn told Boeckmann.
In other business Monday, the council:
o Approved rezoning Lincoln School from a single-family residential district to a neighborhood business district. The new zone is expected to help Fairmont Area Schools in its effort to sell the building and prevent the facility from sitting empty.
o Approved selling $3 million in bonds for Goldfinch Estates. The city is acting as a conduit for the sale, and not financially responsible for the bonds. Goldfinch will use most of the funds to refinance its debt.
o Approved a parade permit for Interlaken Heritage Days Festival of Lakes on June 9. The council agreed to block off part of the downtown area for the festival.
o Approved agricultural leases for the small plots of farmland the city owns throughout the area. The rental amounts range from $110 per acre to $175.
o Agreed to advertise for bids for 2012 airport improvements. The plans include improvements to the main runway, taxiway pavement and apron pavement. Acceptance of the bids depends on how much federal funds will be available for the projects.
o Approved applying for a contamination cleanup grant on the behalf of Bank Midwest, which purchased the old VFW site. If the grant goes through, Bank Midwest will be responsible for 25 percent of the cleanup cost, with the grant covering the remaining expenses to remove and dispose of wood blocks treated with creosote found buried on the site.