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Meridian Transit Authority Budget cut results in terminations, reduced service

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Oct. 25, 2001
Meridian Transit Authority officials have announced they are canceling weekend service to Naval Air Station Meridian.
Chairman Robert Buford of the Meridian Transit Commission, the governing arm of the Transit Authority, said city and federal funding cuts earlier this month resulted in the board's decision to reduce personnel and services.
Earlier this month, city councilmen cut the Transit Authority's $139,000 funding request. The $20,700 cut resulted in an additional $60,000 cut in matching funds from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
Buford said the board decided to terminate three drivers because personnel is the authority's largest expense. He said the board decided to cut the weekend bus route that runs between the city and NAS Meridian.
Over the last few years, Buford said, the city council has made "minimal" cuts to the commission's funding.
Even when there weren't funding cuts, there were also no increases, Buford said, and the authority has absorbed the rising costs of operating bus lines.
Buford said the board hopes the city council will reconsider.
If the council decides to amend the budget and restore the $20,000 decrease, Buford said, the Transit Authority could still use the $60,000 in federal funds, but it "needs to happen before this is all irreversible, before the Navy secures other means of transportation."
Buford said the three drivers could also be rehired if funding is restored.
Buford said the NAS Meridian service is probably the only route that will be affected. The changes go into effect Oct. 31.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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