By Paul Gable
Coast RTA will receive its 4th quarter funding from Horry County despite not completing some required tasks in its funding agreement with the county.
However, if Horry County Council comments Tuesday night were any indication, it is still unclear if Coast RTA will receive the same level, or any, funding from the county in the new fiscal year that begins July 1, 2015.
By an 8-3 vote, council followed the suggestion of council chairman Mark Lazarus to release 4th quarter funding “for the public’s benefit, for riders and for employees (of Coast RTA).”
Lazarus said, “I think it would be in our best interest to fund the 4th quarter,” but warned Coast RTA it would have to have all delinquent items, other than planning items, to Horry County Council before third reading of the new budget is considered.
Or Lazarus warned, “I certainly will not do it (support funding) again.”
Horry County Council and Coast RTA board member Gary Loftus said, “I’m going to bat for you one more time, but that’s it.”
Loftus added he believed there were some members of the Coast RTA board that did not take council requirements and warnings seriously.
Horry County Council member Al Allen said Coast RTA was an organization plagued with problems for 20 years and added that Coast RTA did not take council seriously.
“It’s time for us to send a shot across the bow,” Allen said. “It’s time for us to put the brakes on a runaway bus.”
Although Coast RTA won the vote by an 8-3 margin, no council member gave a strong statement of support for the bus agency.
Therein lies the problem for Coast RTA as consideration of next year’s funding moves forward in budget deliberations. There are a few council members who will support funding the agency for various political reasons, but seem unwilling to make public statements of support. Demonstrated support for Coast RTA, as recently as last year, appears to be slipping away.
One of the missing requirements is a forensic audit that was already supposed to have been completed. It will be surprising if Coast RTA can accomplish this before third reading of next year’s budget.