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ATA Bus seeks boost

By The Mercury

County commissioners heard several appropriation requests Thursday in a continuation of a general budgeting process taking place over several meetings.

Anne Smith, Flint Hills Area Transportation Agency (ATA Bus) director, came to commissioners with a request for an increase in funding for 2013. Smith said that since 2007, ATA Bus’ ridership has increased about 200 percent. In addition to services ATA Bus has provided including on-demand service in Riley, Pottawatomie and Geary counties, SafeRide and shuttles from University Crossing Apartments and Jardine Apartments, the agency also added a fixed-route transit system in Manhattan.

Smith is requesting $21,490 from Riley County and a similar amount from Geary County to fund on-demand rides in the counties. The funds would also serve as local matches used to secure state and federal funds. Smith also requested an additional $10,000 to go toward the fixed-route system because the Manhattan City Commission has not supported funding it.

Smith also noted that ATA Bus is making concerted efforts to secure services contracts. She said service contracts with private entities are useful in securing state and federal funds, because any non-Department of Transportation funds can be used as a local match.

“We really do work very hard to secure outside funding sources,” Smith said.

Emily Wagner, Manhattan Emergency Shelter director, did not request an increase in funding from the county. Wagner said the shelter is asking for $11,000, which it received for this year’s budget. The county’s funding goes toward two night staff positions at the facility.

Wagner said the night staff is essential to the operation of the shelter.

“If we’re not open 24 hours a day we’re not doing our job,” Wagner said.

Pat Collins, emergency management director, requested an increase but noted it was mostly related to step increases and raises for personnel. Collins has requested about $200,000, which is up from about $181,000 this year. He also requested an increase for Riley County Fire District 1. It is mostly related to the increasing costs of protective equipment.

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