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Macon-Bibb cuts some transit funding | News

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Macon-Bibb cuts some transit funding

The first-ever budget for the new consolidated government includes cuts for Macon Transit Authority and its Paratransit service.

MTA is facing more than $250,000 in budget cuts, compared to what it got in fiscal 2014 from Macon-Bibb and the federal government.

Mayor Robert Reichert initially proposed $2,434,000 in next year's budget.

MTA's general manager, Rick Jones, says that may mean cutting Saturday service completely, stopping buses at 8 p.m. instead of at 11 and dropping 15% of MTA jobs.

Jones says that's about 13 people.

Related: Macon-Bibb Commission plans to cut indigent care funding for hospital

"I'm trying to figure out frantically here," Jones said. "If these cuts are this deep, what have I got to cut? It affects the city as a whole. I believe in transit. I believe it's an integral part of the city and it's part of what makes the city grow."

Jones says the buses serve a million passengers a year.

The Paratransit serves 33,000 people a year.

He says he has no intention of cutting the lines that run to and from Robins Air Force Base.

Macon-Bibb commissioner Larry Schlesinger says the budget cuts are painful but necessary.

"It's the committee's way of robbing Peter to pay Paul. There's only so much money to go around to the outside agencies," Schlesinger said.

That explanation doesn't cut it for Barney Strickland, who has cerebral palsy and relies on Macon's Paratransit three times a week.

"It really upsets me," Strickland said. "The budget needs to be balanced. but should it really be on the backs of people who have limited mobility anyway?"

Strickland says public transportation is a "civil rights issue."

"It gives me the ability to get out of my apartment and do things just like everybody else," Strickland said.

Because for Strickland, everyone should have the option, not the privilege, to be mobile.

The committee also voted to cut the half million dollars the Medical Center gets for indigent care.

That would cut all of the funds the county pays to cover care for people who have no insurance and no means to pay.

The full commission is scheduled to take a final vote on that budget next week.

Follow 13WMAZ's Anita Oh on Twitter @anita_oh.


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