Commissioners balk at shelter funding
The Davidson County Board of Commissioners declined to accept grant funding Tuesday for new bus shelters in Thomasville.
County and Chair City officials had been in talks for weeks about accepting an $80,000 Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant from the Federal Highway Administration for up to 10 new shelters. The snag came with trying to figure out how to come up with a $20,000 match for the federal funds.
"There wasn't a whole lot of discussion. The commissioners didn't take any action to move forward with the grant," said Davidson County Manager Robert Hyatt of Tuesday's meeting. "There was a timeframe on when the grant had to be approved and executed."
Thomasville City Council will meet Monday, and the bus shelters are among the items scheduled for deliberation. Commissioners had already postponed a decision regarding the grant at the Board’s meeting March 26, allowing the two sides more time to discuss the matter.
Potts cited time constraints and the unwillingness of city council to commit to funding the entirety of the $20,000 as reasons for why he did not vote to move forward with the grant.
"It was our last time to make a decision before the grant expired and Thomasville didn't commit to putting up all the money to take responsibility for maintenance of the shelters," Potts said. "There is a possibility of damage, such as gang-related graffiti, and we didn't want to be responsible for the upkeep of the shelters."
In a March 19 letter to Hyatt, city manager Kelly Craver indicated Thomasville could contribute between $7,000 and $12,000 toward the project. The council, however, would make the final call on the city's level of investment.
Because the grant was offered to the county, the Board's decision to nix the $80,000 in federal funding "renders the point moot," according to Craver.
"I think they should delete the item that would address the potential matching funds," he said. "My suggestion would be to have the council to take this up at a transportation committee meeting. That will be a council decision, though."
Commissioner chairman Fred McClure joined Potts in concluding the shelters should be Thomasville's responsibility. Without a motion to approve or reject the grant, McClure gave the go-ahead to notify Thomasville officials the project was not something the county would pursue.
"We've seen a great utilization of the bus system in town," Craver said. "It was expanded rather significantly March 4, so there needs to be some time to get statistics on how the route has or has not changed the ridership. I think we've got a couple things in flux."
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.