Advertisements for Hannaford's Supermarket have been placed on the Cascade Express busses run by the Essex County Department of Transportation.
A resolution to purchase new buses and equipment as part of the Essex County Public transportation Department did not make it to the floor.
Instead, Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas requested and received a motion to withdraw the resolution during the Aug. 6 meeting of the body.
“It does not seem like we are under any time constraints with the New York State DOT so I would like to have the transportation committee look at this and then bring it back to us at budget time where we can make a decision,” Douglas said. “I do not want to get into a situation where we obligate ourselves to do it and then find out that we do not have the money come budget time.”
The resolution calls for the purchase of two buses, along with other equipment and materials, including a lift for working on the vehicles and bus stop shelters. The county would act as the lead agency and be joined by the village of Lake Placid and the Olympic Regional Development Authority, who have previously purchased buses through the county.
The bulk of the funding for the purchases would come from state and federal 5311 funding totalling $1,537,856. Lake Placid and ORDA would pay a little more than $61,000 of an estimated $170,000 local share, while the county would pay $60,418.
“I think that this is a wise move,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said.
“We need to make this decision in conjunction with our total budget,” Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell said. “We have a lot of issues and we need to look at where we are going for money. There is a lot that we want to fund but we do not have the money to fund everything.”
“The idea was, let's restart on this and look at what we need to get and where we can get funding for these,” County Manager Daniel Palmer said.
Scozzafava and others brought up their concerns again that some routes do not sustain themselves.
“Is there any way that we can get a log set up so we can see how many bodies are on those buses each day,” Scozzafava asked.
“I can give you a daily log of the riders but I do not know if everyone would want to sign it,” Transportation Director Nancy Dougal said. “We do have a log of how many people have been on.”
Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston agreed that something should be done with lower ridership routes.
“I do not know how this board can continue to chip in and fund these different programs when the state and federal government continue to withdraw funding,” Preston said. “I really think we need to take a look at the transportation department and these routes and get rid of the ones that are not performing.”
Palmer said that the board would have to be careful because dropping the number of routes could also drop the amount of funding available.
“If you start taking out routes that are part of our under-served areas, then your chances of getting grants on your stronger areas are going to go down,” Palmer said. “We don’t want to just assume that we can just throw out all of these low routes and expect that the federal and state government are going to continue to support us.”
“It is a sad state of affairs when you have to have a policy that provides services you do not need in order to get funding for services you do need,” Newcomb Supervisor George Canon replied.