Friday, April 18, 2014

Mountain Rides eyes funding increase

2015 federal allocation expected to be 25 percent higher than this year


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

An increase in federal funding for 2015 should allow Mountain Rides Transportation Authority to maintain its current level of service for the coming year. A Mountain Rides bus is shown here delivering skiers to the Warms Springs base area of Bald Mountain. Photo by Roland Lane

     Mountain Rides Transportation Authority is anticipating a 25 percent increase in federal funding for operating expenses in 2015 compared to 2014.

     The increase was announced at a Wednesday Mountain Rides board of directors meeting by Jason Miller, the organization’s executive director. He said the increase was approved on April 8 by the Idaho Transportation Department District 4 “District Coordinating Council,” a group that advises ITD on how to divvy up funding for public transportation from the Federal Transit Administration.

     Miller said that the recommended allocation for Mountain Rides for 2015 is $978,000. That compares to $778,000 the organization received in federal funding for operations in 2014.

     However, Miller noted that the anticipated increase, which still requires ITD final approval, does not mean that funding for the organization’s 2015 fiscal year operations budget will be 25 percent higher than this year. Instead, he explained, annual federal funding does not become available until April of each year, whereas the Mountain Rides fiscal year, as with many governmental entities, starts in October of each year.

     Therefore, Miller said, the Mountain Rides anticipated federal funding for operations in fiscal year 2015 will be a combination of half of the 2014 allocation plus half of the 2015 allocation.

     Nonetheless, the board of directors was thrilled with the news.

     “I would say, ‘Good job,’” said Director Joe Miczulski, who represents the city of Bellevue on the Mountain Rides board.

     The 2014 federal allocation for operations was about $89,000 less than Mountain Rides received from the FTA in 2013, which led to the organization reducing bus service for fiscal year 2014 by about 5 percent.

     Miller noted that some costs, such as medical and liability insurance, have recently increased but the additional federal funding should allow Mountain Rides to maintain its current level of service for fiscal year 2015.




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