- Published on Wednesday, 05 June 2013 23:39
- Written by Super User
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - Less than a year after Wave Transit began providing bus service to Pleasure Island, officials told the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners on June 3, due to a lack of funding they will have to reduce service. Two routes would be eliminated including the Carolina Beach routes and one in Castle Hayne.
Capt. David R. Scheu, Chairman of the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority Board of Directors, spoke to the Board of Commissioners at their June 3, meeting asking them to make a hard choice.
Scheu requested a reconsideration of funding for Wave in the proposed 2013-2014 budget which was reduced from $250,000 to $140,000.
Executive Director Albert Eby explained last month to the Board of Directors for Wave that, "The majority of the decrease is attributable to an anticipated 36% reduction in funding from New Hanover County. This $90,000.00 decrease in County support will lead to the elimination of two routes primarily serving the unincorporated areas of the County. Since the $90,000 is used as local match for state and federal funding, the overall impact from the proposed county budget will result in a total loss of operating funds available for FY 2014 of $360,000. Unfortunately this change will result in the loss of service to many areas which have a demonstrated need for public transportation service. The Executive Committee and staff are in the process of working with the County to restore funding to the FY 2013 level. If the effort is unsuccessful, elimination of two routes is eminent."
Additionally, the Authority is facing increased property and liability insurance costs.
Scheu said the interlocal agreement between the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County adopted in 2004 created a scenario implying both would pay fair shares towards the operations of Wave Transit.
He explained, "Local government funding is critical since it’s used to match state and federal funds" and, "For one dollar you spend, yields one dollar from the state and two dollars from the feds for operations. For capital acquisition, your one-dollar yields one dollar
from the state and eight dollars from the feds. That's a significant leveraging that is critical to the authority to operate their overall system and should be also the leveraging for the county."
Scheu said the reduction means, "We have to cut our budget $140,000" and will lead to a reduction in service eliminating two fixed routes including Carolina Beach and the Northern loop in the Castle Hayne area.
He explained the cost per resident per year for Wilmington is $11.44 and the County subsidy is $1.19. The City's subsidy will rise to $11.75 because of cost increases and the proposed county reduction will lead to a county subsidy of $0.67 per resident.
Scheu said, "It appears to me the interlocal agreement seems to be affectively set aside. The question for you all is whether you consider public transportation a core responsibility. If it is, we request that you fund us to the fair share, joining the city, and Brunswick County is already paying a fair share. If you don't consider it a core responsibility then you need to revisit the interlocal agreement and consider canceling it."
Commissioners will consider the request at a budget meeting on June 13th.