Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mountain Rides looking at $2.3 million budget

Funding and expenditures expected similar to this year

Express Staff Writer

Mountain Rides Transportation Authority is anticipating a $2.33 million budget for fiscal 2012, similar to what the organization budgeted for operations this year.

"The whole basis of the budget is a status quo for services on the street," Mountain Rides Executive Director Jason Miller said. "We're trying to keep the system as we've been running it for the past year."

The tentative budget for fiscal 2012, which starts in October, was finalized Monday in a workshop between Mountain Rides staff and the organization's board of directors. The final budget won't be prepared until later this summer or early fall after Blaine County and local municipalities finalize their budgets for the coming fiscal year.

Miller said the budget anticipates revenues of $713,000 in federal funding, $285,000 in fares and $76,000 in advertising. He said Mountain Rides' funding partners, Blaine County and the cities of Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley, will be asked to contribute a total of $1.23 million, about 5 percent higher than the partners contributed this year.

"Now we've got to start working with our funding partners to make it happen," Miller said. "We've had good local support, but the challenge this year will be higher fuel costs and the bad state of the economy."

This year's budget was actually $4.5 million, but included $2 million in one-time federal economic stimulus money that was spent on new buses and vans and $190,000 in grant money that Mountain Rides intended to use for a now-scrapped plan for daily commuter bus service between the Magic and Wood River valleys.

Mountain Rides currently provides free around-town bus service in the Ketchum-Sun Valley area and in Hailey, paid-fare bus service between the north and south valley and paid-fare commuter van service between the Magic and Wood River valleys.

Terry Smith:

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