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State money flowing to county transit operation

Kathleen Ellyn

Wallowa County Chieftain

Published on October 24, 2018 11:14AM

Chieftain archiveCommunity Connection also operates bus service between Wallowa Lake and the remainder of the county.

Chieftain archiveCommunity Connection also operates bus service between Wallowa Lake and the remainder of the county.

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That one tenth of one percent you’ve been paying in state transit taxes — taken out of your pay by your employer — is about to pay off in Wallowa County.

Connie Guentert, executive director for Community Connection, which is the transit provider in Wallowa County, presented a three-year plan for the funds at the Oct. 15 County Commissioners meeting.

It was unanimously adopted.

The way the disbursement of Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund was designed was that larger cities and counties would subsidize the counties with smaller populations. “If they gave us back money according to population, we could buy a tire,” quipped Commissioner Susan Roberts.

With the subsidizing by larger counties, Wallowa County will end up with a minimum of $100,000 annually to spend on transit in 2020. The state began collecting funding in July 2018 and the first round of grants, which will be half the regular minimum.

Approximately $11,000 of the first $50,000 Wallowa County receives will go to match an ODOT grant to purchase a $130,000 replacement bus.

Also, beginning July 2019, everyone rides the Shopping Bus free and service increases to five days per week — an addition of services on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to Enterprise and Joseph (7 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Additionally, the increased service means another driver will be hired and a dispatcher position will be created.

Plans have also been made to expand the Community Connection building at the north end to add two offices, a driver’s break room and an employee entrance in 2020. That may happen sooner rather than later.

“It’s a plan in motion,” said Guentert.



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