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Trailblazer 2018 budget reflects increases in service, revenues

ervice has expanded, so has it budget.
On Thursday, the Joint Powers Board reviewed a proposed 2018 budget of $5.369 million. Of that amount, Trailblazer had asked for Minnesota Department of Transportation approved funding for $5.294 million. MnDOT approved a budget of $5.2 million for operating expenses and $162,000 for bus purchases for a total of $5.362 million.
Of that total, MnDOT contributes 85 percent of the “MnDOT cap” of $5.2 million in operating expenses and 80 percent toward the bus purchases.
“MnDOT really came through for us,” commented Trailblazer Executive Director Gary Ludwig.
“We’ve been encouraging you to put service on the road, and you have, and we need to support that,” said Bev Herfindahl of MnDOT.
The good news is that the additional funding from MnDOT, as well as increased fare revenue from the increased service, will mean a reduction in the amount of local share paid by the three Trailblazer Transit partners — McLeod County, Sibley County and a coalition of Wright County cities known as Wright County Area Transportation (WCAT). The local share contribution covers the costs not covered by MnDOT and fares, including the SMART ride component of Trailblazer, which provides transportation outside the parameters of the MnDOT-funded program, such as individual rides to doctor appointments, etc., outside the service by volunteer drivers and smaller vans.
The total local share for 2018 is projected at $83,400, of which Sibley County would be responsible for $16,680, McLeod County would pay $29,190, and WCAT would pay $37,530.
For more from the Trailblazer Transit Joint Powers Board meeting, see the Oct. 4 print edition of The Chronicle.