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After paying into Dial-A-Ride services through Middletown Area Transit for over a decade, Durham and Middlefield will finally receive direct representation on MAT’s board of directors.
Durham First Selectwoman Laura Francis was named Durham’s representative to the board at the town’s Aug. 5 Board of Selectman meeting.
“What is new is that the Middletown Area Transit board members were always appointed by and represented Middletown. It was discovered that that construct was incorrect,” she said. “All the towns that are served by that district should have had a representative member.”
The district that the MAT covers includes Middletown, Portland, East Hampton, Durham and Middlefield. Out of these towns, only Middletown had been directly represented.
“It was incorrect that all the board members were appointed by Middletown. When that was discovered the city quickly put corrective action in place, only appointed the number of members they were eligible for, and then we had to take affirmative action to join the district,” Francis said.
According to Francis, it took a while for the member towns to join the district after making the discovery that the board had been appointed incorrectly. Francis said that Durham then voted to rejoin the district at a town meeting and subsequently appointed her as the town’s board representative.
“It was discovered also that the district was running in a deficit and they had exhausted a line of credit,” she said. However, within months of hiring a new administrator in 2017, the district was able to stabilize itself.
Multiple attempts by Town Times to obtain comment from MAT did not receive a response.
The town of Middlefield held a similar town meeting, Aug. 5, and also voted in the affirmative to rejoin the district. The municipality has yet to vote on a board representative, but Selectman Edward Bailey said that he would likely be the one chosen.
“At one time two years ago, Middletown had six members,” said Bailey. “In reality, they should have only had two.”
Combined, Durham and Middlefield put in over $40,000 to MAT for Dial-A-Ride transportation services. These services help anyone over the age of 60 or anyone with a disability gain access to transportation.
In Middlefield, 29 people are registered for these services and in Durham there are 50 people registered.
Registration can be done online or at the Middletown Area Transit office at 340 Main St. in Middletown.