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Transit authority has plan, but needs help

May 13, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Transit Authority Board of Directors wants to have a recovery plan in place by the end of May, but first it needs a quorum.

The four board members attending Monday night's meeting settled on 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 27, for a special meeting to discuss the recovery plan and budget for 2003-04. The plan has to be accepted by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation before the new budget year begins July 1.

"The money we're getting from PennDOT and the federal government are a done deal," said Board Secretary Merl Waltz. Board President James Jenkins said that should be enough to operate two buses a total of 6,000 hours now, with enough funding left over to cover administrative, maintenance and other costs.

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The recovery plan, however, could include approximately $150,000 in grant funding from Johnson & Johnson, the health care products giant. Jenkins said Keystone Health Center is applying to Johnson & Johnson for the grant, which would then be passed on to the authority to help fund its operations.

Without the grant, Jenkins said the board is looking at a 2003-04 budget of approximately $275,000 made of state and federal funding and local matching grants from the municipalities. If that grant comes through, Jenkins said more buses and routes could be added.

On March 17, the authority cut back to one bus on a three-hour loop three times a day through Chambersburg. The agency went to a bare-bones schedule and skeleton staff after running up debts and back taxes of approximately $300,000, according to Jenkins.

At one time, the system had been running four one-hour loops in Chambersburg throughout the day, as well as bus service in Waynesboro and Washington Township, according to Penny Smith-Myers, a CTA driver-trainer. The authority now has just two full-time drivers and a relief driver on the payroll, down from seven full-time and eight part-time drivers at one time.

Jenkins said the tax bill owed to the Internal Revenue Service has been whittled down from more than $60,000 to about $7,000 and business debt is about $200,000.

Since October, CTA has benefited from $47,000 in contributions from 70 businesses, organizations and individuals, according to Wade Burkholder, a member of the board. Jenkins said $35,000 of that came from three contributors - Keystone Health, Menno Haven and Greene Township.

Jenkins said one of CTA's most urgent needs is an administrator, a position that has been vacant since Eva McKula resigned earlier this year. Much of the paperwork is now done by the drivers and himself "and some things are falling through the cracks."

More board members at meetings are also needed. Their are nine positions on the board, but just six are filled and only four showed up Monday, so no official actions could be taken.

"People don't want to be part of the board with the present situation" until they see positive changes, Jenkins said. "Sometimes perception is reality."

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