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Transportation Association seeks release of funds

September 24, 2018

GREENWICH — The Transportation Association of Greenwich is expected to receive approval on Tuesday evening for additional money to be released for its operations. But concerns still persist about its future.

TAG receives funding from a number of private and government sources, including the town, as it provides an average of 60,000 rides a year to seniors, people with disabilities and Greenwich youth through programs like Dial-A-Ride and Safe Rides. It has run into major financial challenges however, including the loss of state contracts, which have forced TAG to seek money budgeted from the town earlier than intended.

The Board of Estimate and Taxation placed a condition on the $293,000 budgeted for TAG in the 2018-19 fiscal year. Under the condition, the money is separated into four allocations which were supposed to be released each quarter of the fiscal year after the BET got a status report from the organization.

But on Tuesday, the BET will consider releasing $73,250 for the service which had been slated to be given out in the third quarter of the fiscal year.

Last week the BET’s Budget Committee recommended releasing the money. But concerns were expressed by some members about the continued need for early releases.

Committee member Michael Mason said he had gone in with “full confidence” in TAG but could no longer say that because of his concerns that fundraising numbers wouldn’t be hit. He gave TAG credit for cost savings but wanted to see more in terms of fundraising.

The full BET will take the matter up at its Tuesday meeting, which is set to begin at 6:30 p.m., at Town Hall.

Committee member Leslie Tarkington also worried about the future, noting the money for three of the four quarters has already been requested and it is only September.

“We’re definitely in an unusual circumstances,” Budget Committee Chair Leslie Moriarty said. “Their business model, less than 18 months ago, dramatically shifted when all of a sudden they lost their contract and a major source of revenue. They developed a plan and they’re working on cash flows … It’s still a situation that’s evolving.”

Despite the concerns, TAG officials said the agency’s financial outlook has improved as it has raised prices, capped the number of rides to reduce costs and reduced staffing and administration overhead.

“We are continuing to work on our restructuring, on a way that allows us to reduce our expenses as well as be more efficient as the year goes by,” Mike Miller, the treasurer on TAG’s board, told the Budget Committee.

Miller told the BET last week that some fundraising opportunities haven’t come together as hoped for TAG but they are in the midst of “updating our expectations for the year” and other opportunities are emerging.

“Our expectation is that things will accelerate in the next few months,” Miller said. The target for TAG is to raise $150,000, which would outpace the past three years. And the organization is working toward bringing in new business and as offering advertising opportunities as a way to generate revenue.

“That’s good news and I’m happy to hear it,” Mason replied.

Town Administrator Ben Branyan said the cash flow for July and August has been good and in line with the plan.

Branyan said the intention is not to ask for the fourth quarter money until April 2019.

Last year, TAG finished with a $406,000 budget deficit, in which a major factor was the loss of $1.1 million of the $1.9 million it had been receiving from the state.

“I know what you’re going through and I appreciate it,” Budget Committee member Jeff Ramer told members of the TAG board last week. “I think you’ve come forward with some improving news. I don’t know how the year is going to finish necessarily but this is showing that you’re on the right track and that’s good.”

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com

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