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CARES Act funding leads Albemarle to reduce its contribution to CAT bus service

Due to federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, Albemarle’s County’s contribution to Charlottesville Area Transit will be reduced by about 55%.

During a Monday budget work session, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors heard updates on the county’s upcoming recommended budget that starts July 1. The board is scheduled to adopt the budget Thursday.

To help offset decreases in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CAT is set to receive $5.3 million from the CARES Act while JAUNT will receive about $5.5 million.

Albemarle’s contribution to CAT for fiscal year 2021 will be reduced from about $1.1 million to $516,560. County staff will provide a breakdown of the funding in a spreadsheet format Thursday.

Of the savings, $53,500 would be placed in reserve for a local match for a county transit planning and feasibility grant; $245,000 would be placed in a reserve in case the pandemic’s impact on transit worsens after CARES funding is used; and $320,496 would be added to a one-time reserve for contingencies.

Supervisor Dinatha McKeel wanted to review the fiscal year 2021 payments to CAT quarterly.

“Transit, I recognize, is in a very precarious situation right now,” she said. “We really don’t know how transit is going to come out of this, and what it’s going to require. We don’t know what the state and the federal [government] are going to do, and we haven’t really had our reconciliation with CAT over 2020, much less moving into 2021.”

About $1.8 million of the CARES Act funding JAUNT will receive has to go toward urban services, while about $3.76 million must go to rural services. The effect that CARES Act funding for JAUNT has on Albemarle’s budget is still under review.

The board decided to revisit later possible funding for raises for JAUNT drivers and wait for more context around CARES Act funding and information about the difference in driver pay.

The board also supported providing $74,223 to the Sheriff’s Office’s budget for an additional deputy position, due to an increase in mental health-related temporary detention orders and a new judge requesting that civil dockets have bailiffs.

In May 2019, the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services awarded an alternative transportation services contract to G4S, a security company, and this area has been able to use that since January.

“G4S is never going to take over full responsibility of [temporary detention orders],” Sheriff Chan Bryant said. “In speaking with other sheriffs throughout the regions that this has gone into effect, it cuts to about a third.”

The board also discussed possibly bringing back “From the Public: Matters Not Listed for Public Hearing on the Agenda” on its upcoming agendas, but still had concerns about people overwhelming the speaking time.

Board Chairman Ned Gallaway suggested that they limit it to speaking about other items listed on the agenda, such as work sessions and action items. The board will again discuss the general public comment period at its meeting May 20.


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