WEIRTON – After months of negotiations, the Weirton Transit Corp. Board of Trustees on Wednesday opted to back out of a planned lease for new office space after receiving a report that the company’s finances public transport provider are not as strong as members previously believed.
Phil Gilcrest, transit manager, explained that closer reviews of the WTC’s revenue streams in recent weeks, as well as communications from the state, have led to the decision to reverse course with the planned lease of space in the Lauttamus Communications Building on Cove Hill Road.
“Right now, we don’t think it would be a good time to sign.” Gilcrest said.
Part of the problem was the discovery that the West Virginia Department of Transportation has no additional funding scheduled for Weirton Transit beyond assistance with the purchase of two new buses, with the state phasing out those programs in favor of road construction projects.
It explained that if Weirton Transit does not have the lease expense, it was expected to reach its budget for the current fiscal year, but could be looking at losses of about $100,000 for each of the three following years
Mike Paprocki, executive director of the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, attended Wednesday’s meeting, explaining that the board has spent its CARES Act money and will essentially rely on the funds it receives from Weirton Town Hall and other premises. entities when establishing matches for federal transit funds.
“What you need is significant local funding resources,” Paprocki said.
Paprocki explained that BHJ is working on a proposal with the state for a financial planning program and is in the process of talking with Weirton town officials, including Town Manager Mike Adams and the city council, and eventually working with Gilcrest , to see what can be done. getting the WTC up and running again, including reaching out to other local communities, and even businesses, for financial support.
Gilcrest noted that he had spoken with Adams and Weirton Transit could keep its offices in the Weirton Municipal Building, but there was still a concern about bus storage, and Gilcrest pointed to a recent incident where it had broken a bus
Gilcrest also reported that he had been looking into some potential grants for the WTC, but was told that due to tax payment issues and ongoing negotiations with the IRS, the grants would not be available. Board members noted that the WTC has been making payments on what it owes, but has been unable to get a plan or solid guidance from the IRS.
“We make payments voluntarily, but without a plan,” Ward 5 Councilwoman Flora Perrone, who is also a member of the board, said.
In other business, Gilcrest reported on ongoing discussions about possibly establishing a route to Amazon’s distribution center near Imperial, Pa., and explained that state officials have told him the service could not be a direct haul , as it would then be considered a rental service. , which WTC cannot provide.
Board member Brian Maley recommended that Gilcrest seek clarification on what abilities or limitations the WTC would have to establish such a route.
The board also heard from Jake Young of Mobilize 360 about a potential mobile website and app development opportunity. However, the board would later vote to develop a new website in house.
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