City of Jonesboro looking at different ways to fund JETS

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR -- "Operationally, there's not a day that goes by that we don't try to find a way to be more productive or more efficient, to be able to do more with less," said Gary Harpole.

Through those efforts, Jonesboro Operations Director Gary Harpole, says the city is looking at alternative ways to help pay for the city's share of funding for the JETS program.

"The total budget for JETS this year is 921 thousand dollars.  Of that, only 300 thousand is actual city revenue," said Harpole.

Harpole says a provision in state law allows a community  with a population of 50 thousand plus to use up to 10 percent of their highway transportation turn back money for public transportation. Harpole says they have budgeted to receive about 2 point 6 million in turn back dollars, but what they will actually get isn't yet known.

"Will it be 2.6?  Will it be 2.5 or 2.55? What will it be? Whatever that number is, we'll be able to take ten percent of and move over," said Harpole.

Harpole says they're fairly confident that ten percent the city can move will reduce the local contribution for JETS to 50 thousand dollars or less.

"We're running an excess in that restricted transportation fund so we can actually do that this year and not sacrifice any existing street projects that we have," said Harpole.

Harpole adds the federal government is putting an emphasis on public transit for a city Jonesboro's size and says it could lose federal dollars without it.  Harpole adds voters gave the ok to keep JETS back in 2008.

"Our job is to find a way to do it affordably, economically, and still provide the service with the least amount of burden on the taxpayer possible.  We think we've found a way to do that," said Harpole.

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