Cortland Public Bus Service Faces Shut-Down Due to Funding Cuts
The operators of Cortland County’s public bus service serving are in danger of shutting down or may substantially cut service after losing about 40% of its funding due to cuts in Medicaid reimbursements.
Cortland County Planning Director Dan Dineen along with local public transit coordinator Jan Dempsey appeared before the County Legislatures budget committee yesterday to talk about the impact of Medicaid cuts to the 1st Transit Bus Service.
Dineen says New York State has changed the way it provides Medicaid transports, prior to this October the State subsidized the local bus system to provide transportation to those on Medicaid. Now the state has revised its approach and is using taxi cabs and other private transport services to provide the service. The change has resulted in a $490 thousand dollar loss for the bus service, with virtually no way to make up that money.
Dineen and Dempsey say they are in talks with TC3 and other businesses and agencies that rely on the local bus system to either transport students and workers. During the budget meeting yesterday they asked lawmakers if they would consider using the county imposed mortgage recording tax to help offset the funding losses.
County lawmakers were surprised by the impact the funding loss may have on the bus service. Dineen warned that in the future the change could cost the county even more money because the taxi companies will be able charge whatever they want for Medicaid transports outside the City of Cortland.
Lawmakers were reluctant to commit funding to at this point because the mortgage recording tax revenue which about $300 thousand a year is already committed to fund other programs.
Dineen was unsure how long 1st Transit will continue to operate or when it may be forced to make cuts as a result of the funding cuts.