Hundreds of thousands of dollars in statewide sales tax revenue is slated to go to Paso Robles transit operations and roads this year and next.
The $837,454 in Transportation Development Act funds represents one quarter of 1 percentage point of the sales tax collections statewide, according to city documents. The tax dollars are a major funding source for the city transit system, Paso Robles transit coordinator Michael Seden-Hansen said.
Because of the recession, the total coming to Paso Robles this year is less than the $962,063 the city wanted, Seden-Hansen said. The lesser amount hits the transit division’s fund for replacement buses.
“In the past, the city has typically purchased one or two new transit vehicles annually, but because of limited funding and increasing vehicle costs, has only acquired one new transit vehicle since 2007,” Seden-Hansen said.
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A transit bus, of the type used for local fixed route service, costs about $140,000, he added. However, grant money might be available in the future to supplement that cost. The tax revenue the city is getting will come to the city in four payments between December and June.
The breakdown of expenditures include:
• Pedestrian paths and bikeways: $17,731;
• Streets and roads: $30,000;
• Paso transit services: $576,523;
• The San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority transit services: $198,200; and
• A transportation act audit: $15,000.
For the transit uses, the money will cover gas and pay for the bus drivers, according to the city, along with other expenses by the operational contractor and vehicle maintenance and other costs.
Part of the money must be used on the state-required performance audit to ensure accountability for the use of public funds, according to Caltrans. The state agency says such audits help to provide the state with information to assess an agency’s organization and operations.
The state developed the transit sales tax fund act for the development and support of public transportation, according to Caltrans, and the money is allocated to each county based on population, taxable sales and transit performance.
Other transit funding comes from federal grants and passenger fares, he added.
In September, bus and shuttles fares were increased to give transit a $46,000 boost to help pay for its ongoing operational costs.