Press-Republican

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July 6, 2014

Clinton County bus system facing budget shortfall

PLATTSBURGH — The Clinton County Public Transportation system will again experience a funding shortfall this year, but legislators aren’t cutting the system.

“This body needs to decide if we feel this is an essential enough service to continue to provide, and to pay for this shortfall with a budget item,” Legislature Chairman Harry McManus (D-Area 1, Champlain), who chairs the Transportation Committee, told legislators recently.

RIDERS, REVENUE DOWN

McManus said the bus system is projected to have a budget shortfall of about $115,000 at the end of this year.

That comes on the heels of a $33,000 loss for 2013, which legislators learned about in April.

The 2013 deficit was the first time in about a decade that the system did not meet budget projections.

County Deputy Administrator Rodney Brown said the main reason both years appears to be a drop in ridership.

The system logged 210,000 passengers in 2012, but about 30,000 fewer riders took the bus last year.

Projections for this year foresee about 165,000 to 170,000 riders, which is another drop.

MEDICAID CHANGE

One reason for the lower numbers is that the state, which orders para-transit trips for Medicaid riders, uses other transportation providers more than they used to, Brown explained.

Last year, the state hired a private firm to handle Medicaid trips instead of local Social Services departments, and that company is using other providers besides county bus systems.

Brown said the shift has affected public transportation systems across the state.

CCPT also lost riders from Clinton Community College because fewer students lived in the dormitories at PARC.

CLEANUP CASH

Another problem comes in the form of less state “cleanup” money at the end of the year.

The state has a pot of about $10 million that it divides among the two dozen rural transportation systems across the state.

Usually, money is left over, and that is divided among the counties at the end of the year.

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