Formula sought for TAWC local funding match

Local matching funds continue to be a focus of the effort for staff at the Transit Authority of Warren County.

To fund the fixed-route program, the authority is required to generate a certain amount of local matching funds to leverage against its state allocation for the program.

Director John Aldrich provided an update on those efforts last Thursday during a board meeting as municipalities begin the budget planning process for the 2014 fiscal year.

Aldrich said that he met with Warren City Manager Nancy Freenock as well as supervisors from Sheffield and Conewango townships. “They came on site and we gave them a tour and discussed our need for local matching funds,” he said.

He explained three scenarios by which the amount of local matching funds needed can be apportioned to the municipalities that receive fixed route bus service.

One scenario breaks down the proposed municipal contribution by the percent of the fixed route service located in each municipality.

Aldrich said a second scenario stemmed from a meeting with Warren City Council last year when it was suggested that ridership on the buses be taken into account. He said a survey was conducted to determine the “number of originating trips” for each of the areas and then applying those percentages to the local match total to determine a contribution amount for each municipality.

“We found out where people are getting on the buses,” he added. “Almost half of the people riding our system, fixed route, 47.7 percent board in the City of Warren.”

A third scenario, a blended option, would be based 50 percent on ridership and 50 percent on population.

“The question is which one is the City of Warren going to like,” Authority Chairman Tom Hessley said. “They requested ridership. Under the ridership scenario” their contribution goes up.

Aldrich said, “Any of the three (scenarios) the City of Warren has the highest percentage of ridership.”

He recognized that the funding scenarios are “ideal” but he did thank the five to six municipalities who “have been faithful over the years giving us money.”

Additionally, Aldrich said he has met with the Warren County Commissioners in a meeting that “appeared to go a lot better than last year. They seem to recognize what we are trying to do.”

In other news, staff member Brad Wilcox updated the board that the north/south route will be modified beginning in mid-October due to Beacon Light moving from the Warren State Hospital grounds to the site of the old Quality Market in North Warren.

“Every trip up State Street will swing up the four lane and into what will be Beacon Light’s parking lot,” said Wilcox. Goodwill has also moved (there). There will be ridership there.” When asked how much traffic the stop at the current Beacon Light facility receives, Wilcox said that it is “mostly patients seeing doctors…. Nine out of 10 trips through there, we have someone on or off. It’s fairly busy.”