The county is applying for a grant that would in part help to purchase a larger lift van for disabled clients utilizing Sampson Area Transportation, which officials called a “great need.”
A public hearing was recently held regarding a request by the Sampson Area Transportation, which operates under the umbrella of Sampson County Department of Aging, to apply for a 2014 Community Transportation Program (CTP) grant. No one spoke during the hearing, required as a stipulation of the grant application.
Each year, the county applies to the North Carolina Department of Transportation for CTP funding, which is used by Sampson Area Transportation to coordinate existing transportation programs in the county and provide transportation services within the community. The Department of Aging proposed, and the Sampson Board of Commissioners approved, an application be submitted in the amount of $211,967, which requires a $29,073 local match.
More than $50,000 of that funding would consist of a new van.
The CTP funding would cover the period July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. The application package contains funds for administrative, capital and operating assistance, as well as facility safety and security improvement costs.
Specifically, the purpose of the CTP (Section 5311) program is to provide financial assistance for the support of public transportation services in any area outside of an urbanized area designated by the Bureau of the Census. An urbanized area consists of a core area and the surrounding densely-populated area with a total population of 50,000 or more, with boundaries fixed by the Bureau of Census. With its rural nature, Sampson falls well outside the urban category.
“The Federal Transportation Administration appropriates 5311 funds annually to each state to help transportation projects in non-urbanized areas,” said Sampson Area Transportation coordinator Todd Daughtry. “5311 funding enhances access of people to health care, shopping, education, employment, public services and recreation.”
The $29,000 match will be budgeted in the Department of Aging’s 2013-14 budget.
A resolution authorizing submission of the grant was approved, making assurances and certifications regarding compliance with federal and state requirements. The 5311 funds can be used for the costs of transit planning activities, local project administration, transit operations and the purchase of capital equipment or facilities to aid in the provision of transit services in rural areas, as well as provide funds for state-level administration.
Daughtry said the CTP grant covers two areas — administrative and capital — requiring local matches of 15 and 10 percent, respectively.
The administrative project amount of $157,507 comes with a 15 percent match, at $23,627. That portion of the CTP grant funding encompasses salaries and fringe benefits for employees, as well as drug and alcohol testing, office supplies, travel and utilities, as well as a computer program utilized regularly on trips. Additionally, it pays for advertising costs and vehicle insurance. Federal and state funding covers the other 85 percent of the cost.
The capital project amount, including vehicles and other expenses, would be $54,460 in federal and state funds, with a 10 percent match, at $5,446. That cost is one vehicle.
“We are requesting to replace one vehicle,” sad Daughtry. He noted the state’s minimum criteria of 100,000 miles for replacing vehicles. “The vehicle we’re replacing already has right at 110,000 miles on it. It is a lift van, used for our handicap-accessible clients. We are also requesting funding to put the lettering on the van, along with our phone number. We have a lot of need and really need some more seats in this vehicle.”
The current lift van can accommodate six people and two wheelchairs, where the 20-foot light transit vehicle being proposed can fit up to nine people and two wheelchairs. If approved for the grant to replace the current vehicle, the old van can be sold at public auction, with funds used to offset the new purchase, or transferred to another county department.
The total request for the 20-foot light transit vehicle, with lettering, is $54,460.
Daughtry often speaks to the Board of Commissioners about two separate grants — one covering the personnel and equipment costs, the other covering the costs to extend transportation services to specific sets of clients.
“One is the CTP grant, which is for the administrative and capital (costs), for vans and things like that. The other part is the ROAP (Rural Operating Assistance Program), which is the actual money to help do the service for the RGP — Rural General Public — the elderly and disabled, and then the employment part,” Daughtry said.
The SAT coordinator said he was confident the funding would be received to continue operations at their current level, while slightly improving delivery with a vehicle upgrade.
“In the past, we might have applied for three (grants) and they’ll give us two,” said Daughtry. “With this one vehicle, I just don’t see them not giving it to us. We have shown a great need to replace these vehicles. We’ve put a lot of miles on these handicapped vehicles, and we showed the state that. We showed the trips we put on them.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.