City Council looks to increase Victoria Transit funding

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Oct. 13, 2013 at 5:13 a.m.
Updated Oct. 14, 2013 at 5:14 a.m.

Victoria Transit is looking to expand its routes and its budget.

The City Council will vote Tuesday on an agreement to chip in $209,000 to the transit authority's budget - a 25 percent increase over the past three years.

Councilman Tom Halepaska said he supports the expansion.

"I think it needs to be continued," he said. "There are many people who can be gainfully employed if they can have reliable transportation. For many people, that can be the tipping point."

The routes would serve the state offices along Leary Lane and the public facilities along Nimitz Street.

The Texas Department of Transportation has agreed to pay the transit authority up to $274,975 for bus services.

During a budget workshop in August, Councilman Jeff Bauknight said he did not want the city's percentage to the transit authority budget to increase.

In 2010, the city's portion was $181,100. For the next three years, it dropped to $164,542.

A decade ago, the city contributed $40,400.

"I don't want to slide down the slope of the city continually funding a bigger and bigger percentage of their budget," Bauknight said during the workshop.

The city's original agreement was to contribute $25,000 to the transit system, Bauknight said.

"My fear has been that its subsidized by a grant, and if that grant ever goes away, is there going to be an expectation that the city pick up the slack?" Bauknight asked. "I don't think we can afford to."

While the transit authority provides a service to residents and includes paratransit services, it operates at a loss, Bauknight said.

During the budget workshop, Assistant City Manager John Kaminski said the city's share of the transit budget has been about 7 percent.

To add the routes, the organization needs the increase.

The transit authority also increased its fare in September to $1.50 a ride.

As Victoria Transit's expenses increase, "they're trying to tackle it through more than asking the city for more money," Planning Services Director Jared Mayfield said.

"Victoria is experiencing growth, and ridership has increased," he said. "This just seemed like the right time to help address the growth in our community."

Victoria Transit Director Lisa Cortinas was unavailable for comment.



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