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County will fund PATS for another year

The Pike County Commission will no longer meet today to discuss their future role in the Pike Area Transit System (PATS), deciding to fund it for at least one more year.

The City of Troy had called a special meeting to discuss the county’s role in the program after the commission discussed potentially cutting their $100,000 contribution to the multilateral operation at the most recent budget hearing.

Commissioner Russell Johnson, District 6, said that the commission wanted to ensure they had reliable data before they make a decision whether to continue taking part in the funding of the program.

“We all agreed that we didn’t think the right information could be obtained at this time,” Johnson said. “We did not want to not make an erred rush to judgment so we agreed we would sit down and work this out for a year and make a proper decision in the next 12 months.”

Chairman Robin Sullivan said the commission was set to vote at Monday’s meeting to include PATS in the upcoming budget, but the commission meeting and subsequent budget hearing were cancelled due to suspected weather issues related to Tropical Storm Irma.

The cities of Troy and Brundidge both partner with the community to fund the program, with Troy already shouldering the majority of the funding.

Johnson said the commission wanted to get a deeper understanding of how many residents the transit system serves and whether the costs justify the spending by the county.

The decision comes as the commission seeks ways to curb spending on non-mandated items in the upcoming fiscal year and focus on issues such as resurfacing roads.

The county has rescheduled Monday’s meeting for Monday, September 18 and the planned budget hearing will follow it.

The commission by law must submit a balanced budget by the end of the month.

County administrator Harry Sanders said the commissioners wanted to stay ahead of the clock and get another meeting in before their last scheduled meeting of the month on September 25.

“I think the commissioners wanted to make sure that they had plenty of discussion about everything to do about the budget,” Sanders said. “They didn’t want to put themselves in a bad position with a limited amount of time left.”

The agenda for the meeting will remain the same. The work session will begin at 5:15 p.m. upstairs at the Pike County Health Department and will continue with a business meeting at 6 p.m. The budget hearing will get started immediately following the end of the meeting.