Biloxi restores CTA funding - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi restores CTA funding

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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Biloxi leaders said the city can't afford for the Coast Transit Authority to have to sideline any of its buses because of funding problems. During the city's budgeting process, Biloxi slashed its contribution to CTA in half. Tuesday, the council voted to restore that money.

The Coast Transit Authority runs five fixed routes in Biloxi. After Biloxi cut its contribution from $280,000 to $140,000, CTA officials said cuts to services in Biloxi were likely on the way.

"You would see total routes go away. It would cut off people from public transit services totally," said CTA Director Kevin Coggin. 

CTA asked Biloxi to reconsider the cuts. Biloxi accounts for 60 percent of ridership with many of the customers being from Keesler Air Force Base, as well as casino patrons and employees.

Biloxi Council Member Clark Griffith said, "We need to pay attention to things like CTA which really service, as I pointed out, the two largest economic inputs to the city of Biloxi: The casinos and Keesler Air Force Base. They provide the riders for those entities more than anything else. So we, as a city, need to make sure the funding provided is appropriate."

CTA officials said Biloxi's decision to restore funding using money from the general fund is a relief. Otherwise, CTA was on the verge of having to turn down federal dollars.

"We have to have local dollars to match the federal dollars that we bring into the community. So it's essential we have support from local governments to do that," Coggin said. "We generate a lot of our own income through advertising revenue, but we have to have a certain match from local government to match federal dollars."

Local government subsidies account for 20 percent of the CTA budget. Some council members asked CTA about the possibility of pursuing casino money. Coggin said casinos have been approached in the past, but are not receptive to the idea because of the amount of taxes they pay to the local government and because Las Vegas casinos do not contribute to public transportation.

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