Coast RTA funding approved

jrodriguez@thesunnews.comSeptember 3, 2013 

— Horry County approved giving Coast RTA its final payment from last fiscal year, saving about $600,000 from cuts in the transit’s $5 million budget this year.

County officials asked Coast RTA CEO Myers Rollins at the beginning of the year to make a good faith effort to try and increase the number of Horry County representatives on the RTA board. If not, the council contended, it would withhold the fourth-quarter payment of more than $260,000. In June, councilmen voted to withhold the money because some believed an effort wasn’t made.

That sent the RTA’s budget into a whirl, prompting talks of route cuts, staff reductions and continued hiring freezes. Specifically, 26 operations positions, two maintenance positions and five administrative positions would be eliminated from the 87-person staff. The smaller budget also would continue the hiring freeze for five positions currently frozen because of budget constraints, which include the director of marketing, human resources manager and an accountant. The RTA’s Entertainment Express and airport routes will be eliminated as early as October if the funding is not reinstated, and Coast’s on-demand route will be shortened from 12 hours per day to six.

In July, Coast had to submit a budget to the Federal Transit Authority that is about $600,000 less than the initial $5 million proposed because about $340,000 was contingent on Coast receiving full payment from the county. The Coast RTA board has set up meetings to talk about how to accomplish getting more county representation on the board. Questions were formed and will be presented to the state Attorney General, which is what Coast RTA officials presented as a valiant effort.

The funding passed despite four “no” votes, which came from Councilmen Gary Loftus, Al Allen, Paul Price and Brent Schulz.

Loftus, who sits on the Coast RTA board, said he did not think a valiant effort was made.

Chairman Lazarus said he thinks an effort was made.

“I believe that they have done what we’ve asked in a good faith effort,” he said. “I believe the sincerity of you moving forward is there.”

Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_jrodriguez.

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