MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Macon Transit Authority (MTA) says the county owes them more than $476,201.
During Tuesday’s Macon-Bibb County Committee meeting, commissioners say they’re working on a new payment agreement with MTA.
According to MTA, the deficit is from 2018’s lower operating budget last summer. There was no budget passed by commissioners at the time.
While commissioners were discussing a budget agreement for the fiscal year 2019, the county wasn’t funding MTA.
MTA still has financial problems from July and August when the county was working on the budget.
Hundreds of people ride buses daily in Macon. Many like Sharletha Rooks depend on the service to get to and from work.
“I use the bus system about 6 days a week,” she said.
MTA Chief Financial Officer Lee Brown says during those two months they emptied their reserve funds to continue operating.
“There’s no way a city the size of Macon can operate and not have public transit,” Brown said.
An agreement between MTA and the county that states the MTA needs to have 45 days of reserved funds. If MTA uses those funds, the county has to restore the money.
As of now, Lee says the county owes MTA $476,201 – which will cover the reserved funds MTA used.
During the Commission Meeting next Tuesday, commissioners will work on a new agreement to pay MTA the full amount.
“If they cut the amount they owe us, or not pay us anything at all, we will be looking at stopping buses,” Lee said.
Brown says with budget cuts made by the county and Georgia Department of Transportation they need the total amount owed to continue operating. He says raising fairs isn’t an alternative option if the county doesn’t pay them. Otherwise, Lee said, MTA would raise the fairs so much it’d be cheaper to buy a car and get insurance in the long haul.