(Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)                                A Clallam Transit bus waits at The Gateway transit center in Port Angeles for a run to Sequim while a local bus pulls in behind it on Wednesday.

(Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News) A Clallam Transit bus waits at The Gateway transit center in Port Angeles for a run to Sequim while a local bus pulls in behind it on Wednesday.

Clallam Transit approves 2019 budget

PORT ANGELES — Clallam Transit’s governing board has approved a $10.3 million operating budget that funnels $426,240 to reserves, aiming to keep the agency on the road to financial sustainability.

Board members voted unanimously Dec. 17 to approve the operating budget and a $604,500 capital/grant budget for 2019.

“It looks like a really stable budget for the next five years,” Clallam Transit General Manager Kevin Gallacci said in a telephone interview.

“It’s also contingent on grants that we’ve applied for, but I feel good about our plan right now.”

The adopted budget maintains current levels of service, including the twice-daily Strait Shot route from Port Angeles to the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal.

Based on current five-year projections, the public transportation agency will be positioned for possible service expansions in the future, Gallacci said.

“Our full intention is to keep services going at this point,” he said.

Clallam Transit’s operating budget shows $10.72 million in revenue and $10.29 million in expenses in 2019, adding to a $4.29 million reserve fund.

If the projections hold true, up to $370,653 will be transferred to non-operating vehicle reserves, according to a board-approved budget resolution.

“Again, this plan is financially sustainable over the (five-year) time frame listed, as long as the sales tax and grant funding occurs reasonably close to what we’ve projected,” Clallam Transit Finance Manager Dunyele Mason told the eight-member board last week.

The 2019 budget assumes that Clallam Transit will receive two of the three operating grants that it applied for. Grant announcements will be made in March.

“If we’re lucky, we’ll get all three,” Mason said.

“But if we get the two, that kind of replaces the two that are expiring, so we would just have a status quo.”

Grant funding accounts for $1.12 million — or 10.5 percent — of the revenue in Clallam Transit’s operating budget.

Sales tax is by far the largest source of revenue for the agency, with $8.29 million budgeted for 2019.

The operating budget assumes a 3 percent increase in sales tax collections in 2019 and 2020, followed by 2.5 percent annual increases in subsequent years.

“This would be reflective of a significant reduction, which is a good thing in our assumptions,” said Clallam Transit Board Chairman Mark Ozias, who is also a Clallam County commissioner.

Bus fares account for $1.03 million — or 9.6 percent — of Clallam Transit operating revenue. The budget predicts a 0.5 percent increase in ridership in 2019.

Ridership was up nearly 7 percent on fixed routes last month compared to November 2017.

With 657,026 boardings through November, annual ridership was outpacing 2017 levels by 0.6 percent, according to information provided to the board.

On the expenditure side, the 2019 Transit budget includes a 3.25 percent cost of living raise for union and non-represented employees.

Wages, salaries and benefits make up $7.58 million — or 73.7 percent — of all spending in Clallam Transit operations.

The budget also includes a 20 percent increase in fuel costs next year followed by 3 percent increases in subsequent years.

“Fuel is such and important part of what we do,” Mason said. “And it can change very quickly.”

No public testimony was given on the budget in a public hearing Dec. 17.

In other action, the board voted unanimously to move its regular meetings from the third Monday of the month to the third Wednesday of the month. The meetings, most of which are in the administration building at 830 W. Lauridsen Blvd., will begin at 10 a.m.

For Clallam Transit routes, schedules and fares, click on www.clallamtransit.com.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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