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Trailblazer considers ’16 budget

With its growth into Wright County, Trailblazer Transit was anticipating a $4.55 million budget for 2016. And it was anticipating that the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) would approve a budget of $4.3 million in qualifying expenses, of which it would pay 85 percent, or $3.65 million.
However, MnDOT set the operating cap for 2016 at $3.7 million, which means Trailblazer will receive $3.145 million.
“It’s going to be fine,” said Gary Ludwig, executive director of Trailblazer, of MnDOT’s less-than-anticipated aid. Ludwig reviewed the 2016 budget with members of the Trailblazer Joint Powers Board at its regular meeting Thursday.
The reason MnDOT is capping its budget at $3.7 million, Ludwig said, is that the Trailblazer 2016 budget is anticipating a total of 29 buses on the road. However, that probably won’t happen as of Jan. 1, Ludwig said.
“Our program won’t be fully developed by the first of the year,” said Ludwig. “MnDOT is expected that we’ll be ramping up throughout the year.”
Therefore, MnDOT doesn’t believe the full budget will be used in 2016.
Ludwig said part of the reason that there will not be 29 buses on the road is that Trailblazer is still struggling to find drivers.

For more, see the Nov. 25 print edition of The Chronicle.