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Matching funds unavailable

JACKSON — Officials here are saying the county’s financial situation is still the same after reconsidering Choanoke Public Transportation Authority’s funding request.

On Wednesday, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners directed County Manager Wayne Jenkins to respond to a letter from CPTA after the board was informed no new revenue was available for a $13,000 match requested by the public transportation group that serves Bertie, Hertford, Northampton and Halifax counties.

In a letter signed by CPTA Board Chairman Morris Rascoe and Executive Director Pamela Perry, the commissioners were asked to reconsider the $13,000 match that was first requested during the board’s regular budget process.

“According to a recent letter received from your office, Northampton County chose not to provide a contribution to CPTA this year which really creates a hardship for us to continue providing services at the lowest cost possible to our citizens,” the letter stated.

The letter explained that economic conditions caused CPTA to increase rates last fiscal year in October 2008, three months into the new fiscal year due to high fuel prices and a depletion of the non-profit’s reserve. Because of the depletion, rates were increased another three percent starting July 1, 2009 in order to not operate at a loss and rebuild the reserve pursuant to state law.

“A collaboration of all supporting counties is very essential to us,” the letter continued. “The recourse of not supporting may result in higher cost for contracting agencies as well as the citizens of Northampton County.”

The letter also offered 2008-2009 statistics on its services to Northampton County. CPTA provided 48,795 of 202,673 passenger trips to Northampton County, which is 24 percent of the entire service area. The service breakdowns for Northampton County are as follows: aging and elderly-11 percent, Medicaid/Workfirst-33 percent, general public-10 percent and other contracts 46 percent.

After presenting the letter, Jenkins said he regretted to advise the board that the same conditions and circumstances applied as with the Lake Gaston Weed Control Council.

“We haven’t identified any new revenue and there’s no place in the current year budget to take any additional funding,” he said.

Commission Chair Robert Carter directed Jenkins to respond to the letter.

In June, the commissioners discussed studying the possibility of creating their own public transportation entity after being notified of the last CPTA increase.

The CPTA rates are increased from $8.44 to $8.69 per unit (defined as a one-way trip). The last rate increase came in January and was $6.75 before it jumped to $8.44. The rate has been steadily on rise; since 2005, it has increased $3.09.