Friday, June 17, 2005

KART unveils balanced preliminary budget

New town bus starts Monday

Express Staff Writer

Despite high gas prices that just won't budge, Ketchum Area Rapid Transit has balanced a preliminary budget for the coming fiscal year.

The KART board of directors reviewed the figures at their monthly meeting Wednesday, June 15.

The budget total is $1,496,700, a 20 percent increase from the last fiscal year.

Two buses are factored in to the budget instead of last year's single bus, but federal grant money will pay much of that portion.

The city of Sun Valley will be asked to pay an additional $1,000 over last year, amounting to a proposed $325,880. Ketchum will be asked to pay $8,000 over last year's amount, totaling $488,820.

KART is funded in a 60-40 split between the cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley with Ketchum paying the larger portion.

Fuel costs are budgeted in with a 9 percent increase, or $50,000, but bus parts are estimated to be 5 percent less, or $60,000.

"We haven't had a big maintenance year," said KART Manager Terry Crawford. "Everything is running good."

KART is counting on two new 29-foot low-floor Gillig transit buses to replace two 25-foot 1991 Blue Bird buses. They are expected to arrive by February.

Federal funds will pay for 83 percent of the $525,000 the two buses will cost. KART will pick up the remainder of that.

"New buses have a tendency not to have a lot of expenses, and if they do, they're covered under a warranty," Crawford said. "I'm kind of playing on the whole thing, figuring the maintenance costs will be lower. It gives me more flexibility."

The budget won't be finalized until the cities of Sun Valley and Ketchum approve their budgets in August.

"Then our funds are locked in," Crawford said.

KART's fiscal year runs October 1 through September 30.

So far this calendar year, passenger counts have fallen by 5,000, Crawford added. However, he hopes that number will be made up in summer with the introduction of the new town bus, which starts Monday.

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