NRoute to see increase in budget

Published 11:30 am Thursday, February 27, 2014

NRoute officials are projecting a $938,160 budget for fiscal 2015, funded by $478,310 in federal transportation grant money and $459,160 in locally generated revenue and other funds.

The NRoute Transportation Board of Commissioners approved the proposed budget Wednesday.

NRoute’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 31, but executive director Evelyn Bumpers said the budget has to be prepared early and submitted to Federal Transportation Administration early as part of the application for the federal funds.

FTA grant funds form the bulk of NRoute’s income, which also includes a $200,000 annual supplement from the city, fares and other state grant funds.

The proposed budget is $107,513 more than the $830,647 NRoute received for fiscal 2014. The transportation system received $433,616 in federal grant funds for 2014. One reason for the budget increase is proposed raises for bus system employees ranging from $500 to $3,468 depending on the position.

“This is the first raise the employees have had in three years,” Bumpers told the board, adding she will discuss employee raises after the budget is approved by the FTA.

The budget discussion followed news that NRoute’s finances have stayed in the black since the start of the fiscal year in October. The bus system finished fiscal 2013 with $1,016.20 thanks to the infusion of more than $30,000 from the City of Vicksburg. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen also increased the city’s supplement from $125,000 a year to $200,000.

According to NRoute’s financial statement, its net income for 2014 as of Wednesday was $11,682.67.

Nathan Cummins of May and Co., NRoute’s accountant, said part of the reason for the improved financial picture was the board’s decision in February 2013 to reduce the number of bus routes from six to three, which he said resulted in the reduction of operating costs for items like fuel and tires.

Besides cutting the routes, the board laid off three full-time drivers and reduced two full-time office positions to part-time. The administrative assistant’s position, one of the positions moved to part-time, was restored to full-time during the summer.

In other action, the board learned that ridership for the first five months was down by 224 riders compared with the same time on 2013, revenue has increased over the same period compared with fiscal 2013.

As of Wednesday, 17,575 passengers have ridden buses since Oct. 1, compared with 17,799 in 2013. Ridership has declined each month about 63 percent since October, dropping from 4,347 to 2,745. Revenue for the first five months of 2014 was $36,334.87, about $13,972 more than the $22,362.65 collected during the same period in fiscal 2013. Part of increase is NRoute’s contract with Warren/Yazoo Mental Health and MIDD-West Industries.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John