Sunday, February 10, 2002

Butler transit in no rush to hire GM




By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — With its future more uncertain than ever, Butler County's public transit system probably won't hire a new general manager to replace the one who left last month. And it might further reduce its Fairfield Express route.

        The financially strapped Butler County Regional Transit Authority hasn't advertised the general manager's job left vacant when Amy Terango resigned last month.

        The Transit Authority Board is leaning strongly toward paying a management firm to handle the general manager's duties.

        “Until it's clear what the future is, it's going to be hard to get a top-of-the-line permanent general manager,” board member Sterling Uhler said.

        “Not too many people want to sign on to a sinking ship.”

        Under a plan the board adopted in December, the Middletown Express route will be dropped in the first week of March.

        If finances dictate, the Fairfield Express route, which had been reduced from three to two buses last month, could be cut to one bus, said Ken Reed, acting general manager.

        “It's not our desire to reduce services,” he said, “but when you look at our funding levels ....”

        The transit system's financial woes stem from an inability to replace the federal grants that expired last year.

        Butler County voters twice rejected quarter-percent sales-tax-increase proposals last year for the transit system.

        No relief is in sight. The county commissioners have earmarked $1.1 million in sales-tax revenues for public transit. But that depends on voter approval of a proposed 10-year sales-tax increase. The tax initiative may not go on the ballot until November or May of 2003.

        The Transit Authority devised its 2002 operating budget of $2.3 million on the assumption that it would not receive any money this year from the commissioners, Mr. Reed said.

        “The $1.1 million would enable us to reinstate some of the services we've had to cut,” he said.

        Since May of last year, the transit system has eliminated the response-on-demand Dial-a-Ride program and has eliminated and reduced fixed routes.

        The Transit Authority Board has discussed placing a levy on the ballot this year, but has made no decisions.

       



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