Following The Central Virginian’s recent coverage about the impacts that cuts in JAUNT’s service will have on local users, a result of flat funding by the Louisa County Board of Supervisors, the county has requested additional data to decide whether it will increase funding.
Supervisor Richard Havasy (Green Springs district) added the topic to the board’s Monday, June 17 agenda for discussion. In an interview, Havasy said that he had received multiple phone calls about the issue following the newspaper’s coverage and felt that there should be further discussion on the matter.
The board of supervisors had previously approved $202,728 for its share to JAUNT for the past four years, $56,000 shy of what JAUNT had requested. However, according to JAUNT executive director Donna Shaunesey, that’s not enough to sustain the current services and fares.
JAUNT reduced some of its services in Louisa in January after a request for $3,000 in December was rejected. The additional $3,000 would have ensured that previous routes would be maintained through June 30. As a result, Monday bus service to Louisa, as well as the former commuter route to Charlottesville, were eliminated.
In light of the board’s decision to keep funding flat in the coming year, JAUNT announced a few weeks ago that it would raise fares and eliminate the Tuesday and Thursday service to Charlottesville and drop Saturday service effective July 1.
Seven citizens spoke during Citizen’s Information Period at Monday’s board meeting urging supervisors to reconsider its funding decision and increase JAUNT’s budget for the coming year.
“We are happy to continue the dialogue and we are grateful to the citizens who came out to support JAUNT,” Donna Shaunesey, JAUNT executive director said. “That gives us some glimmer of hope.”
With the board’s agreement to review the matter, Shaunesey said that JAUNT will postpone the proposed fare hikes and route changes for one week until the supervisors have an opportunity to decide on the matter at their July 1 meeting.
Rae Ely, a Green Springs district resident, voiced her support for increasing funding levels for the service.
“Louisa County is a county of great wealth,” Ely said. “It has been saving money like squirrels with nuts.”
Depending on who you talk to, she said, the county has saved anywhere from $16 million to $48 million.
“Some people who represent the county tell folks like JAUNT, ‘We have to tighten our belts,’ but you have all the money you need to build a [water] pipeline,” she said, adding that perhaps there should be a forensic study of the county’s budget performed.
“I’m here to speak tonight for those without a voice … I’m asking you to reconsider,” she said. “Vote to amend that appropriation and let’s find that $56,000.”
To read the entire story, see the June 20 edition of The Central Virginian.