State says shutting down bus system would cost Gloversville $1.3 million
GLOVERSVILLE Gloversville officials will be looking to hire a “mobility manager” after learning the city would have to repay the state approximately $1.3 million if it shut the transit system down completely.
Mayor Dayton King along with Common Council members Robin Wentworth, John Castiglione and Ellen Anadio met with state Department of Transportation officials Monday to discuss the true local costs of the city’s bus system.
King issued a news release Tuesday to explain what he was told. He and the council members could not be reached for subsequent comment.
“We learned for the first time today that the local taxpayer dollars to fund our transit system was only $62,180 in 2009. In 2008, the number was $187,911. We also learned that if we were to shut down the transit system completely, we’ll be paying back over 1.3 million dollars,” King said in the news release.
Determining exactly how much of the cost of the transit system is paid for by state and federal funding has been a topic of debate in Gloversville for years. King said in his news release that the funding formula is complex and involves ridership numbers and miles driven. He said some of the bus system’s routes, like the one to Amsterdam, are 100 percent funded by the state and federal government.
Monday’s meeting with the DOT appears to have forced King to take a new position on hiring someone to replace former GTS manager Al Schutz, who left last summer to take a job in Maine. King has been supervising transit since January, but he leaves the daily operations to the department’s office staff. The mayor met with the Gloversville Transit Commission in February and informed members that he would prefer to have the city reduce or eliminate its involvement with the bus system, which serves much of two counties but is subsidized partially by taxpayers from Gloversville.
“We will very likely go forward with hiring a full time mobility manager. The council will need to add around $14,000 to this year’s budgeted amount and a total of just under $30,000 for next year,” King said. “There are opportunities out there to work closer together with other transportation services and local agencies that use our service. I am not going to ask the county or other agencies for more money, but give them an opportunity to spend less by utilizing our services. Once again, government needs to shrink and we need to focus on preserving services not jobs.”
Wally Truesdell, a former transit Commission member who was not reappointed by King at the close of last year, recently formed the Citizens for Gloversville Transit, a group dedicated to preserving the transit system. The group was preparing to start a petition drive calling for King to appoint a replacement for Schutz, but that may not happen now.
“If he’s going to appoint someone, [a petition drive] would appear to be redundant, but we still have to meet to discuss it,” he said.
Truesdell said he isn’t surprised to hear the $1.3 million payback figure from state DOT officials. He said when he served on the Transit Commission the commission was informed on many occasions that if the transit system were ever shut down the city would have to repay various grants given to it over the years to support the system.