Middletown council approves no fares for bus service through 2022

Riders on the Middletown Transit System will not pay fares again in 2022 after City Council approved the legislation. FILE PHOTO
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Riders on the Middletown Transit System will not pay fares again in 2022 after City Council approved the legislation. FILE PHOTO i

Middletown Mayor Condrey the lone negative vote, saying CARES funding ‘not a free lunch.’

Despite opposition from the mayor, Middletown City Council approved extending the no fare policy through next year for those who ride the Middletown Transit System.

When told the policy would eliminate the need to count the money from fares and the loss of revenue would be offset by federal CARES act funding, Mayor Nicole Condrey said she wouldn’t support the legislation.

“It’s not a free lunch; it’s coming from a different pot,” she said referring to CARES funding.

Council voted 4-1 to pass the legislation.

City Manager Jim Palenick, at an earlier meeting during the first reading of the ordinance, said fare revenue typically is about 6% of the transit system’s annual operating budget.

In 2019, the last year fares were collected, the MTS received $102,504 in fares, according to Delene Weidner, director of finance for the BCRTS. She said total budgeted revenues for 2019 were $1,829,718 and operating expenses were budgeted at $1,820,907.

MTS operates in cooperation with Butler County Regional Transit Authority and the BCRTS board of trustees has approved going zero fare for fixed routes through 2024.

Palenick said the typical user of the bus system is “transit dependent” and they ride the bus to work, medical appointments and retail stores.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, MTS implemented a fare less system to reduce obligations for citizens experiencing financial hardships and promoting safety by limiting contact with drivers and patrons and limiting touching fares necessary for counting fare box receipts, according to city officials.

IN OTHER NEWS: City council will hold two meetings the week of Oct. 18 due to the number of important items on the agenda. Council will hold its regular meeting on Oct. 19, then a special meeting on Oct. 21.

At the Oct. 21 meeting, council will hear more about the city’s proposed budget and a presentation on the possible development of the riverfront along the Great Miami River.

Both meetings will start at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers in the City Building.

Council unanimously approved giving Middie Way Baseball a $10,000 grant to help furnish equipment and costs for children to be able to participate regardless of family means.

The city received additional CARES act funding through the HUD Community Block Development Grant program to help address the needs of families in the low to moderate income bracket, officials said.

The grant will be paid to Compassion City Center, Inc., a local nonprofit that will serve as the acting fiscal agent for Middie Way Baseball. Compassion City Center will be obligated to account for every dollar, according to city officials.

Middie Way Baseball held several free fundamental baseball camps for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade this year at Lefferson Field. The last one was held Saturday and the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund provided the organization 100 free tickets for kids to the Reds game on Saturday.

The league hopes to begin play in 2022.