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Assistant city manager finds way for Dowagiac to qualify for $4,000 for DART training

Published 8:49am Wednesday, July 29, 2009

By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News

Dowagiac City Council Monday night approved an agreement with the Michigan Public Transit Association (MPTA) which makes the community eligible for Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) funds for its Dial-a-Ride Transit (DART).

RTAP is a federal program MPTA administers which provides funding for various eligible training opportunities for rural agencies that receive FTA Section 5310 or 5311 funds.

Dowagiac is eligible for up to $4,000 in Fiscal Year 2009 to cover costs of eligible training activities and equipment and/or technical assistance and research activities that promote or benefit rural public transportation.

“With the continued decline of state and federal funding levels, and the need to use more local funding to balance the DART budget, RTAP grant funds will provide an avenue for payment of eligible training and equipment costs that otherwise would be denied due to budget restrictions,” City Manager Kevin Anderson said.

“Hopefully it will become routine,” Anderson assured Mayor Pro Tem Wayne Comstock.

“As Rose (Scherr, assistant city manager) has taken over management of DART and started to dig into some of the nooks and crannies of financing, she has found there is opportunity for us to receive training dollars that we have not received in the past.”
“Training for what?” Comstock followed up.

“MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) likes to call mandatory meetings that are usually located in Lansing or Mount Pleasant,” Scherr elaborated. “Training may last for a couple of days, so any of the travel costs, including mileage and hotels, that would all be covered. Also, we can purchase a television and DVD player if we use that for that type of interactive training our drivers need.”

“It’s a $4,000 eligibility,” Anderson added, “so we can buy equipment for training and we can also get reimbursed for direct costs we spend in required training. Reimbursed for expenses that in the past we likely have paid for.”

Third Ward Councilman Leon Laylin, supported by Third Ward Councilman Dr. Charles Burling, moved for adoption of Resolution 5.

“Rose, you continue to amaze me with the stuff you can accomplish in such a short period of time,” Burling said. “Thank you.”

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