TBTA setting fiscal 2014 budget

ALPENA The Thunder Bay Transportation Authority is estimating its budget will be in the neighborhood of $2.95 million for its 2014 fiscal year, which starts in October.

General Manager and CFO Billi Edmonds presented the figures to the board, saying she calculates the transit system will show a profit of $70,000 at the end of that period.

The budget will be turned over to the Michigan Department of Transportation Friday, so the authority can continue to receive state and federal funds.

Fares will remain unchanged, but Edmonds said she anticipates ridership will continue to increase on Dial-A-Ride and tri-county buses.

The Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Services District, Alpena Public Schools and community mental health services will reimburse the authority about $1 million in exchange for providing rides to the disabled and the elderly, she told the board.

Labor costs are expected to rise, in part because of an increase in the cost of living, she said, and the payroll budget is $2 million. The district has around 60 employees, including aides on buses.

Diesel and gasoline also are big ticket items and their fluctuation is uncertain. Edmonds is pegging that figure at $308,000 for the fiscal year, but said the district continues to operate in the black.

In another action, a potential transit site in the Oxbow neighborhood is now off the drawing board. During a private meeting Feb. 18 at the APlex, over a dozen residents from the area told board members they didn’t want the new $7.5 million transit center located in their backyards.

“Buses coming in late at night that was a real concern,” board member Jeff Kowalski said.

The board’s unanimous roll-call vote was greeted warmly by five residents, who had put together a letter containing 59 signatures of people who opposed the site.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at blehndorff@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693.