Coast RTA Funding – Tempest in a Teapot?

By Paul Gable

It seems that the controversy over funding that erupted last week between Coast RTA and Horry County may be on its way to resolution.

The Coast RTA board passed a resolution at its regular board meeting Wednesday to work with Horry County and the Horry County legislative delegation to reconstitute who appoints board members to more closely reflect local agency funding of the authority.

Why couldn’t this resolution have been passed in the six months since January 2014? If it had, there is a very good chance uncertainty about a $268,000 payment from Horry County to Coast RTA in May 2014 would never have arisen.

The board also approved what it calls an “austerity” budget that has provisions for losing the $268,000 from Horry County and an additional $340,000 in matching federal funding, for a total loss of just over $600,000 from a $4.88 million total budget.

However, it appears the only way Coast RTA will not get the FY 2014 fourth quarter funding from Horry County is if its board goes back on the resolution it passed Wednesday.

Several other things come to mind with this whole situation. The austerity budget reportedly calls for the elimination of 33 employee positions from a total staff of 87 employees.

Why would a 12.5 percent cut in budget revenue necessitate the cutting of 38 percent of employee positions, even if the total cut came out of employee pay and benefits expenses?

Whenever Coast RTA funding seems in jeopardy, we always hear how it will affect poor people’s ability to get to work. A number of community activists were, reportedly, summoned to Wednesday’s meeting to make that point.

However, if such is the case, why was the agency’s newly instituted route between the airport and ocean front hotels and the Entertainment Express route, which shuttles tourists to various entertainment venues, the ones mentioned for elimination or reduction by October if next year’s fourth quarter money still appears in jeopardy?

What does a shuttle from the airport to hotels have to do with poor people going to work? Maybe the activists can explain that one.

Wednesday’s Coast RTA board meeting should have put to rest funding questions, at least for this year.

Now, it’s time to discover how a possible 12.5 percent cut in revenue would result in a 38 percent cut of employees.


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