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NRoute to finish year with cash

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, May 29, 2014

NRoute is expected to break even to finish the 2014 fiscal year and probably show a positive cash flow balance, the transit system’s accountant told its Board of Commissioners Wednesday.

“Whereas last year, we were in a high deficit situation, right now, you’re probably pretty close to break even at the end of the year,” said Nathan Cummins of May & Company, NRoute’s accountants. “Your additional resources help you stave off that deficit. I’ve got you with about $10,000 in income from additional receipts (at the end of the year).”

Cummins said the bus system is averaging $45,000 a month in income and $50,000 a month in expenses for an average monthly deficit of $5,000.

“(But) You make that up with your Warren County money, which is $30,100, you make it up from your insurance reimbursement at the end of the year, which is about $50,000, and then you have multimodal funds that you can use sometimes to offset expenses,” he said. “If you could find a way to get $5,000 in additional funds, you could break even on a monthly basis.”

He added, however, that NRoute’s cash reserves would begin shrinking as the fiscal year comes to a close.

“You’ve got about $37,000 now,” he said. “It’s going to diminish. It’s going to get closer to zero at the end of the year, and then in October, you’ll bill your insurance again and start the cycle all over. I think you’re going to stay positive in your cash flow.”

NRoute’s projected financial picture for the current fiscal year is an improvement over it situation at the close of fiscal 2013, and the transit systems received a boost from the City of Vicksburg in cash and in-kind totaling more than $70,000 to help NRoute avoid a projected $55,532 deficit at the close of fiscal 2013. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen also increased the city’s supplement to NRoute from $125,000 to $200,000 a year

The NRoute Board in March 2013 also took steps to reduce its routes from six to three and laid off three drivers. The move was projected to save the cash-strapped bus system about $108,706 per year.

The board in April 2013 reduced two full-time administrative employees to part-time, cutting their salaries and removing insurance benefits in a move estimated to save about $21,060 a year. An administrative assistant position was restored to full-time in June.

“When we made changes a year ago — to save $100,000 or so — it’s pretty much worked out as projected,” board chairman Don Brown said.

“I think everything that was put into place at the end of last year and getting the additional funds from the city, reducing the routes, those things have contributed to breaking even this year,” Cummins said. “You want to finish with some extra money each year, but breaking even isn’t bad.”

NRoute executive director Evelyn Bumpers said finishing the fiscal year breaking even would give the system a boost for fiscal 2015.

“Coming up on the next fiscal year, we’re going to be in better shape because we won’t start out in debt,” she said.

In a related matter, the board authorized Bumpers to ask the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for a three-month advance in the city’s supplement in anticipation of a possible delay in Mississippi Department of Transportation funds while the state converts to a new accounting system.

According to a letter from MDOT, the state on July 1 will implement a new statewide payment system called Mississippi’s Accountability System for Government Information and Collaboration, or MAGIC. According to the letter, state officials are projecting a possible delay in funds going to vendors and agencies of about 2 to 3 months, recommending they develop a contingency plan to cover operations if the funds are delayed.

In other action, the board:

• Learned ridership on the buses totaled 3,480 passengers as of Wednesday, 151 than in May 2013. Ridership for eight months into the fiscal year totaled 29,045, 470 passengers more than for the same period in 2013, which had 28,575 riders.

Revenue from fares for the eight months totaled $72,632.94, or $27,931.05 more than the $44,701.89 collected for the same period in 2013. The increase is attributed to contracts between NRoute and Warren-Yazoo Mental Health and with MIDD-West Industries.