City of Sandusky
Running on empty
Mar 1, 2014 at 10:19 AM
Imagine driving from Sandusky to Cleveland and running out of fuel when arriving in Avon.
Without AAA or a good friend to siphon fuel from, you’ve got a big problem.
Now consider Sandusky Transit administrators coming up $318,000 short of their $2.2 million 2013 budget.
Sandusky city commissioners played the role of companion this time — but they won’t pick up a bill of this magnitude again.
Follow the money
The Register takes an in-depth look at Sandusky’s $16.3 million operating budget this week and tells readers where the money’s spent:
•WEDNESDAY: Horticultural and greenhouse operations
•THURSDAY: Sandusky Transit and public transportation
•FRIDAY: Recreational assets
•SATURDAY: Paving, plowing and patching up streets
•SUNDAY: Dealing with a downsized fire department
•MONDAY: Cemetery services
Local funds provided a $318,000 bailout so transit administrators could balance their budget in 2013.
Sandusky Transit services mostly relies on state and federal grants along with local rider fares to sustain operations.
But when a transitrelated shortfall happens, commissioners must transfer money from their everyday operating budget, totaling $16.3 million this year, to offset any negative balance. The everyday operating budget covers dozens of services, including police, fire and greenhouse services.
The transfer occurred amid a fiscal crisis in which a $1.1 million citywide shortfall resulted in commissioners this past Monday voting to eliminate four full-time fire positions. By May, three firefighters stand to lose their jobs as the fourth position is currently empty.
“We have to get the transit to a point where it’s taking less from the general fund,” Sandusky ex officio mayor Dennis Murray Jr. said.
Commissioners only budgeted about $60,000 to help balance out transit’s bottom line, if needed, in 2014.
If Sandusky Transit can’t at least break even in 2014, several drawbacks will occur, which could include officials slashing bus services, shortening routes, increasing fare prices and laying off some of the department’s work force, consisting of about 35 full- and part-time employees.
City officials have considered placing ads both inside and outside buses. They also want government officials benefiting fromtransit services, where buses pick up and drop off passengers, to pony up some funds.
“We are working on numerous projects that will generate considerable funds,” Sandusky Transit administrator Thomas Schwan said. “The goal is that no funds are needed from the general fund of the city”