Although the city is not involved with funding for the struggling General Public Transportation program, city officials are looking to be part of an effort to possibly save the service.
During Tuesday evening's Fort Scott City Commission meeting, City Manager Dave Martin said a meeting to discuss ideas and expenses for the service, which is faced with coming up with about $9,000 by June 30, or shutting down, has been set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce, 231 E. Wall St.
Martin said city commissioners and other city officials are welcome to attend the meeting, which is also expected to include representatives of the chamber and Bourbon County government, as well as the GPT board.
Martin said he has received some calls from local residents requesting the city become involved in an effort to save the GPT service, as well as a letter from local resident Myrtle Anne Colum, who said that "like many senior residents of Fort Scott, I have to rely completely on the public transportation system to get to my doctors, dentist and all other appointments. Fort Scott has a very large number of seniors who contribute to the revenue of the city."
In her letter, Colum urged city commissioners to partner with the Bourbon County Commission to see what can be done about saving "this much-needed service." She added that even if an increase in the fare per ride is necessary, "it would still be a very good service for seniors."
Martin said he also wanted to clear up a recent rumor in the community that the city funds the service and had planned to shut it down.
"I think there was a perception that the city was shutting it down," he said. "That's not the case; it's not in the city budget. But it is good for the community."
Martin said the service is needed in the community and affects several different entities in town. He has also said that he is open to any ideas from the community regarding saving the service.
Mayor Jim Adams said the state has recently cut funding for many programs and will likely make more cuts in the future. He added commissioners need to look at the matter closely before committing any funds.
"I think we need a lot more information before we give funds to anybody," he said. "We need to be careful about taking on extra (expense)."
Martin said he has not made any guarantees or promises of city funding, but thinks the city should be a part of helping research options and looking for possible ways to save GPT. He added this is the purpose of the Jan. 15 meeting at the chamber office -- a fact-finding gathering.
"It's just to show that we have a need and let's see if we can carry it on," he said. "Now it may not work, but at least we tried."
He has said that meetings with people the service impacts will also be held to see if a solution can be reached.
GPT, which is part of Bourbon County Senior Citizens, is trying to come up with a little more than $9,000 to meet a grant for 2012-13 and stay afloat.
The current cost is $3 per ride or customers may purchase a bus pass for $30 entitling them to 12 rides. Good for six months, the pass provides two free rides.
GPT raised fares $1 -- from $2 per ride to $3 per ride -- last February due to increasing fuel costs and decreasing grant funding in recent years.
The program is open to the general public. The service is a demand response service where the individual calls the dispatcher and requests to be picked up at a specific address in the city limits and delivered to a location within the city limits.
In other business, the commission:
* Approved the consent agenda, which included approval of appropriation ordinances totaling $636,285; a resolution designating the official city depositories for public funds; an ordinance relating to the cutting of weeds and the charges thereof; a resolution with reference to an alleged unsafe and dangerous structure and accessory structure located at 201 S. Washington, and set a public hearing date for 6:15 p.m. Feb. 19; and a similar resolution for a structure at 324 Andrick and set a public hearing date for the same time and date; a $384,504 pay request to Sekan Ashpalt Services Inc., for work on the 2012 Street and Sidewalk program; and a $21,402 change order for the program.
* Following a brief discussion, unanimously approved a resolution designating The Fort Scott Tribune as the official city newspaper. Publishers of the Tribune and Bourbon County Review were present to make comments to the commission. Adams suggested the issue be revisited in April when the Bourbon County Review has been in business for one year, at which point it could be eligible to become the official city newspaper.
* Took no action following a five-minute executive session.
More on the city commission meeting will be published in a future edition of the Tribune.