Higher fuel costs, increased price for vehicle parts, and a staff wage increase were cited as reasons for their increased request for 2024.
THE BATTLEFORDS — Though the Battlefords Transit System isn’t sure what they’ll receive from the Transit Assistance for People With Disabilities (TAPD) Grant — designed to support the running of the Handibus in the Battlefords — they’ve asked the council of the Town of Battleford for $45,034 for 2024.
In documentation presented to council at their Nov. 6 meeting, the proposed operating budget for the Handibus shows $138,238 in revenue and expenditures of $288,352.
The balance remaining in their budget is $150,114 according to documentation presented to council.
The shortfall in revenue, split 70 per cent with the City of North Battleford and 30 per cent with the Town of Battleford, would see the city pay $105,080 and the town pay $45,034.
“We can reasonably assume that it [TAPD Grant funding] will be a similar amount or more than the previous year of $38,638” Jeffrey Graham, the transit manager explained in a letter to council.
He went on to explain that if the grant funding is higher, they will re-adjust their calculation so the Town of Battleford pays less for their 2024 contribution. But, if the town was unable to pay, it would pose struggles for the service.
In his delegation to council with committee member Debbie Logan, he noted that ridership is down across the country by 70 per cent, according to Statistics Canada — though the numbers are up post-COVID-19 and continues to climb.
He says the increases are attributed to higher fuel and parts costs, and a staff wage increase in an attempt to retain workers. He also noted that they are working to revive marketing programming, to get broader engagement and more fares.
Councillor Alexis Christensen noted that she’d liked to see a better marketing plan, and Graham said that was one of his mandates since he started within the last month as manager.
Other councillors did note there were some discrepancies and errors with the draft budget, and Logan noted the committee would review and send it back to the town corrected before their next round of budget deliberation later in November.