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Cumberland County commissioners balk at CAT funding

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The Cumberland County commissioners want a funding agreement in writing with Capital Area Transit, but the two sides are not quite there yet.

Commissioner Gary Eichelberger said there hasn't been a funding agreement between the county and the bus service for a few years. The funding agreement fell apart after Harrisburg missed several payments because of its declining financial situation.

Cumberland County's present contribution to CAT was frozen at the 2013 level: $319,324. The commissioners previously warned that funding would not increase unless a new formal agreement was developed and signed by the three entities served by CAT -- Cumberland County, Dauphin County and Harrisburg.

"Our biggest concern is the cost containment or lack of attention to it, and some governance questions," Eichelberger said today.

CAT Executive Director Bill Jones did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Eichelberger said county officials "want some metrics and reporting procedures" included in any agreement with CAT.

The agency has some unexpected costs that concern county officials, said Larry Thomas, chief clerk for Cumberland County. CAT wants to build an $80 million maintenance facilityand has had contract issues with its drivers.

"The way they conduct business, they don’t inform the Cumberland County funding partners of what they’re doing," Thomas said. "We’d like some more accountability for what they do."

CAT recently started a circulator bus service trial, which the agency says will make it easier for people to shop and get to work in the Carlisle area.

To begin with a three-year test run, the bus service was started primarily to take people to jobs, shopping centers and other businesses. In the Carlisle area, stops are at Carlisle Crossings shopping center, Carlisle Regional Medical Center and warehouses along Allen Road.

The 15 percent local share of annual operating costs is being borne by Carlisle-area municipalities and businesses, CAT has said. Federal and state funds will cover the bulk of the costs.

County officials want to have the CAT agreement worked out by September, Thomas said.

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