There were winners and losers during Warren City Council budget discussions on Monday night.
The Transit Authority of Warren County was a winner.
Council approved a $7,500 contribution for TAWC, which will take the money and use it to leverage funding from the state.
City Manager Nancy Freenock said that the city last gave funding to TAWC in 2009. Councilman Sam Harvey then proposed to set aside the $7,500 to "keep an actual government service. (Our) small donation will allow them to keep a big service. (TAWC) affects real people's lives."
Noting that council agreed to fund a maximum of $54,000 to improve Beaty Park in 2013, Harvey added that "if we can afford tennis courts, we can afford to fund the buses. I don't think we should be funding charitable donations. TAWC is not a charity."
Councilman Dr. Howard Ferguson added that the Transit Authority is "a necessary service to keep our community whole. I think adding (funding for) TAWC is a good idea and appropriate."
Local contributions of $38,000 will leverage $800,000 in state and federal funding, TAWC Chairman Tom Hessley said during a city budget session held last month.
The organization sent letters to a number of Warren County municipalities in recent weeks.
"For 34 years, we have been able to meet the local match requirements," Hessley said. "But, in recent years, both the city and county have not appropriated local match monies to the authority. Without these local funds we will not be able to continue the fixed-route service as it now exists.
"Public transportation was a good idea 34 years ago, and it is even a better idea today," Hessley said. "Other municipalities in the county have continued to fund our efforts over the years. I respectfully request that Warren City Council again appropriate funds in your budget to help us serve your citizens."
But council's opinion wasn't unanimous.
"I feel we're spending too much money on TAWC right now at $7,500," Councilmember Chris Park said. "TAWC is actually Warren County, so I feel our contribution should be $4,600, which equals the per capita for Warren County. Their funding by the state is for Warren County."
Because the routes originate at the TAWC building in Warren and an estimated 50 percent of riders are city residents, TAWC asked city council for the lion's share of municipal match - $7,500. The city had contributed that amount each year from 2006 to 2009. Other municipalities, from Youngsville in the west, and Sheffield to the southeast, to Glade, Pleasant, and Conewango townships, were asked for much less. TAWC can use the $10,000 to $12,000 it earns from selling advertising space on the sides of its buses toward the match and officials hope for a contribution from the Warren County Commissioners.
"I'd be willing to match, dollar for dollar, the other municipalities," council member Chris Park said last month. "Let the other townships know, this is all we're going to pony up."
Council approved the funding request in a 6-1 vote with Park in opposition.