Budget Stalemate Forces TCAT to Seek Line of Credit

Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit Inc. will be forced to borrow money to make ends meet as it, along with public transit agencies statewide, will not receive its scheduled quarterly state funding on time next week.TCAT had expected to receive about $750,000 in Statewide Mass Transit Operating Assistance (STOA) for its operating budget the third week in May. Unfortunately, Gov. David Paterson’s office rejected a request to include STOA payments for transportation systems in an emergency spending bill aimed at keeping the state government operating during the persistent budget stalemate.Annually, STOA payments to TCAT, Inc. fund approximately 36 percent of TCAT’s $12 million operating budget, with the balance being covered by fares, local assistance and federal funds. “TCAT will have to resort to costly short-term borrowing in order to be able to make payrolls through mid-summer,” said TCAT General Manager Joe Turcotte said. “And, that is only with the assumption that lawmakers can come to agreement before the end of that period.”Turcotte said he understands the Legislature’s limitations on its ability to amend emergency spending bills. However, public transportation is essential, just as is education and other public services, to repair and build the economy, he said.“The one thing you can do behalf of our riders is to act now to adopt a state budget and appropriate the STOA funding we need to keep moving,” Turcotte said in a letter this week to the Tompkins County statehouse delegation.

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