Commission approves $530,750 budget for CATS

Published 9:15 am Friday, April 14, 2023

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The Covington County Commission approved the 2024 budget for the Covington Area Transit System and several other discussion topics at a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, April 11.

The commission approved a fiscal year 2024 budget of $530,750 for the Covington Area Transit System. The Covington County Commission and local communities provide CATS a total of $178,855 in funding with $351,895 from federal funding.

“Everything is basically the same with no changes and no new vehicles ordered this year. That’s the only difference, but we are waiting on the four vans that we previously ordered under the Oct. 1 budget. We haven’t increased the rates since 2015 and are trying not to. We are trying to keep the rates what they are because of the economy,” CATS Director Tami Baxley said. “The CATS system certainly provides a significant service to our community, and we appreciate what you all do,” Chairman Greg White added.

Baxley stated that CATS currently runs four buses daily with one bus occasionally used for overflow.

“We make approximately 60 trips a day and are extremely busy. When we receive the other four vans, we will have seven vans total available for service. I am so excited about that because we are turning down people daily for rides. It will be a great expansion, and hopefully, we will be able to do earlier mornings and later afternoons to get people going to work or getting off work. We cover all of Covington County but have goals in the future to be able to do runs to Montgomery or Dothan.”

The CATS staff is on their third training with new dispatch software that was recently implemented. Dispatch is used on a call-by-call basis and runs on demand response.

“It’s hard to shut everything down with the phones and all, but the training sessions take an hour. We have one more session after this one and will then start our drivers on it. This software will take care of my yearly reports like how many runs we do and how much money we take in in addition to other things the state requires of us,” she said.

The commission approved the county’s participation in the state’s GIS program for use in voter registration for the next two years. The county would cover costs following the initial two years if approved.

“The Secretary of State’s office is offering a program to provide GIS services for the Board of Registrars. Right now, registrars use paper maps, but this GIS vendor will take those maps and put them into digital format. They will be put into the computer and sent to our election vendor to make sure all of our maps are correct and up to date. When a voter votes, he or she must vote in the precinct of residence. It will be much more accurate by having it in a digital format. I believe it will be a great idea for us, and they will pay for it the next two years. It’s better to be proactive than reactive because elections are really under the spotlight now. Anything we can do 100 percent correct is better for us,” Probate Judge Stacy Brooks said.

In other business:

  • Prior to the meeting, Lynne Holmes was sworn in as a member of the Covington County Commission to fulfill the remaining term of her late husband, Tony Holmes. She was one of four Covington County residents who applied for the Dist. 3 seat after Tony Holmes passed away from an illness in February.
  • The commission approved an appropriation of $2,500 from discretionary funds for the Covington Region Honor Flight.
  • The commission approved the solicitation of bids for 36-month contracts on cleaning supplies and pest control.
  • The commission approved the county’s participation in the 2023 back-to-school sales tax holiday, which will be held from July 21-23.
  • The commission approved the solicitation of bids for a replacement vehicle and uniforms to be used by the Sheriff’s Department.
  • The commission approved the solicitation of bids for a vehicle to be used by the Engineer’s Department.
  • Covington County EMA Director Susan Harris announced the county will be hosting a statewide hurricane exercise Thursday, May 11, and a local emergency planning committee will be held Wednesday, May 24.

The commission went into executive session following the meeting to discuss the consideration of a real estate purchase.

The next meeting of the Covington County Commission will be held Tuesday, April 25, 9 a.m., at the Covington County Administration Building. The public is invited to attend.