The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners might be seeking county representation on the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority board.
The commissioners will consider approving a draft letter to Wave Transit for representation, said Meagan Kascsak, the county’s public information officer, in an email Monday.
A decision on a $5,500 supplemental appropriation requested by Wave Transit to help with its budget shortfall this fiscal year is anticipated for the board’s Dec. 16 meeting, she said.
County commissioners tabled a decision over funding so that it could further research the issue, commissioners chairman Frank Williams said last week.
“Some commissioners expressed concerns about the timing of the request in relation to our budget process,” Williams said. “My personal view is that, while I understand the need for some level of public transportation, we also need to ensure that the funds we provide to Wave Transit are being used effectively and efficiently.”
As part of the discussion to table the funding request, commissioners expressed interest in having county representation on the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority "based on the significant financial participation of the county,” states county documents.
There is currently no Brunswick County representation on the authority’s board.
The county approved $32,072 in its 2019-20 fiscal year budget for Wave, said Kascsak.
The Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority is requesting supplemental appropriations from its funding partners equaling just over 17% of its appropriations this fiscal year.
In October, the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority adopted a resolution requesting supplemental funding to help balance the budget this fiscal year, citing budget issues related to a reduction in state and federal funding sources. The request is in addition to a proposed reduction to Wave Transit’s service hours and allocations from its own fund balance to balance this year's budget.
New Hanover County commissioners recently denied Wave's $57,000 funding request. As did the town of Leland, which was asked for $9,500. Other requests to the city of Wilmington, the towns of Navassa and Carolina Beach, have not yet decided. The city of Wilmington is being asked for the most supplemental funding, a request of $250,000.
On Sunday, the New Hanover County Democratic Party adopted a resolution to support improved funding for Wave Transit and called on Democratic elected officials and candidates to publicly voice their support for continued Wave Transit funding, according to a news release.
The party claims that annual appropriations from the city and New Hanover County have not kept pace with rising operating expenses and that the vote by commissioners in October would make the authority’s funding situation worse.
The New Hanover County Republican Party, however, feels that while the community needs a solid public transportation system, there needs to be an efficient use of taxpayer dollars, said Will Knecht, chairman of the New Hanover County Republican Party.
"What we as the Republican party would suggest is hard decisions need to be made... We're 100% in favor of an efficient and effective Wave Transit. But we would challenge the leadership at Wave Transit to make the tough decisions to bring that deficit down and to be better stewards of the taxpayer dollars," Knecht said.
Read more about Wave Transit in the Dec. 6 issue of the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.
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