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Ridership growing, but city hits brakes

Andy Ouriel • Oct 14, 2013 at 11:00 AM

City finance officials project Sandusky, by early next year, will have a $1 million deficit in its $16 million everyday operating budget.

To maintain the current level of operations, the city will have to find $1 million someplace — raising taxing, perhaps — or reduce services. The latter would include layoffs.

A looming fiscal pinch forces city officials to red light funding for all operations outside the general fund, including public transportation.    “The plan is to ensure that the Sandusky Transit budget is self-sufficient in 2014,” city engineer Aaron Klein said.

To read about the status of shelters for bus riders click HERE

Sandusky Transit, a $1.7 million-a-year operation, relies primarily on fares from riders boarding buses, as well as state and federal grants. It also receives money through local agencies, such as Serving Our Seniors, whose clients rely on busing services.

Sometimes, however, Sandusky Transit borrows general fund money — and it occasionally doesn’t repay the money.

In 2012, for instance, the city’s general fund bailed Sandusky Transit out of a $55,000 deficit. Sandusky Transit never repaid this amount.

So far in 2013, the general fund has fronted $210,000 to Sandusky Transit. It’s unknown if the transit system will repay this amount.

“We are not generating enough (money), so the general fund is subsidizing us this year,” Sandusky Transit administrator Thomas Schwan said. “We are hoping that doesn’t happen next year.”

If Sandusky Transit can’t at least break even in 2014, Schwan said he’ll slash busing services, possibly shortening routes and decreasing the number of stops. It’s unlikely any fares would increase to offset a deficit, Schwan said.

Among the tactics to generate revenue: advertising inside and outside the buses.

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