Authority approves budget

The Transit Authority of Warren County has a budget in place for the upcoming fiscal year.

The authority board approved the $1,744,801 spending plan in a unanimous vote at its meeting last Thursday.

PennDOT still must approve the spending proposal, but the budget approved includes decreases in all of TAWC’s programming.

“Everything has been going up except our income and ridership,” Ellen Ruffolo, board member, said. “The budget this year is an attempt to reverse the trend.”

The budget for the medical assistance program was reduced by 12 percent, or $56,369, from $468,455 to $412,086, shared-ride by 3.8 percent, $19,539, from $518,885 to $499,346 and fixed route by 3 percent, a cut of $26,000 from $855,567 to $833,369.

In total, the 2013-2014 budget shows a decrease of $98,000 over the current year, a decrease of 5.3 percent.

“(TAWC Director) John (Aldrich) has done a masterful job in developing the new budget,” said Ruffolo.

Aldrich said that some of the savings in personnel come from having more part-time and fewer full-time employees. Additional personnel savings are expected to come from scheduling efficiencies that could save as much a $5,000 per year.

Another factor that has allowed budget numbers to decrease is the knowledge and skills of the authority’s mechanic.

“Our mechanic has been able to find parts for our buses locally,” Board Chairman Tom Hessley said. “He does a masterful job of finding this stuff. He’s knowledgeable. He’s really good at finding things at lower prices.”

Board member Cindy Jarzab said that having a mechanic has increased efficiency, limiting the time a bus is out of service when in need of repair.

“We’re trying to hold expenses in all three programs,” Aldrich said. He said that ridership has increased “but not to the same degree the expenses have gone up. This is a very tight budget.”