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PATS funding OK’d for next year

The Pike Area Transit System will continue operations as is, this after the Troy City Council gave approval for annual renewal last week. But, as members of a three-agency agreement, Troy also took on the bulk of the responsibility in the agreement.

As part of the requirement to apply for state funding, which is a large portion of PATS revenue, sharing agencies that are the Pike County Commission and City of Brundidge, sign letters to appoint Troy as the head each year.

Thus, if either agency were to back out of its share of funding, which is split between the three based on population, Troy would have to pick up the slack.

This year there is likely no threat that would happen, but in the next year at least one agency could be taking a look at its part.

“We just signed a letter to name the city of Troy as the lead agency for the grant, so indications are we are going to go at least one more year,” said County Administrator Harry Sanders. “The commission has asked a lot of questions about the service…and I expect that to come up again.”

While Sanders said he isn’t projecting the commission will cut its funding to the PATS system, he does think it will be a question the commission looks at as it begins the budgeting process.

“It’s always a matter of what you’re going to use down the road, and what will be a discussion,” Sanders said. “In this next fiscal year we’re pretty much committed, but it’s always, ‘What does the future hold?’”

Brundidge City Manager Britt Thomas said he doesn’t foresee Brundidge ever deciding not to be a part of the service.

“It’s worked very well for us, and we’ve had a good number of citizens taking advantage of it,” Thomas said. “We’re satisfied with it and have been.”

Troy City Clerk Alton Starling said the city of Troy obligates around $146,000 to the program, which is used as matching grant monies for state funds. Starling said if any agency were to drop out of the program, the services simply wouldn’t be offered in that area.

Starling said the agencies obligate the allotted money to the state each year as a requirement to receive state funds. But, he said if one agency dropped out and PATS used less funding, Troy could simply extend that funding amount longer rather than have to spend more money.

Starling said he wasn’t sure exactly how much each entity pays, but he said essentially Troy and Pike County split the costs evenly, and Brundidge has the smallest allocation.

Dante Frazier, PATS director, said these grants are used to fund operations and administrative costs for the program. He also said the system is used by residents in all three coverage areas frequently.