Stanly commissioners approve application for federal funds to get new SCUSA vans

Published 3:24 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2022

The Stanly County Board of Commissioners approved county staff to apply for a federal grant in order to purchase two new vehicles for SCUSA transportation at the December meeting.

By a vote of 6-0, with Commissioner Peter Asciutto excused from the meeting due to illness, the board approved application for a Community Transportation Program FY24 grant. The grant request will be for $265,900 for two vans plus $900 for lettering on the vehicles’ outsides.

Transportation Services Director Randy Shank presented the resolution to commissioners.

Before commissioners decided, a public hearing was conducted, with one person speaking.

Jason Phibbs, while saying he was not against SCUSA, asked the board if they knew what they were signing up for, adding there was no free money. He mentioned on the first page of the resolution a clause saying the county would have to comply with federal and state statutes and administration requirements from the Federal Transit Administration, “essentially ceding local sovereignty to the federal government with this and future grants.”

Shank responded to a question from Commissioner Brandon King about what information the board was signing away for by noting if the board did not do it, the vehicles SCUSA has “will eventually fall into dispreair. We put a lot of miles on the vehicles each year…this is pretty standard across all the transportation systems throughout the state.”

The program for which the county is applying, Shank added, has probably existed for about 40 years.

“If we don’t approve this, will we be OK next year, the year after? Sure, but eventually vehicles are going to fall into disrepair and we won’t have vehicles. Then you will be tasked with interesting questions.”

Referring to his department presentation in September, Shank said SCUSA vans take people to medical appointments every day, referencing kidney dialysis patients specifically.

The department has to meet federal guidelines which go along with any grants, he added.

County Manager Andy Lucas said most grants include a lot of auditing, saying the county’s budget “has a huge amount of federal and state money” in it, including funds for SCUSA, the health department and the senior services department.

Lucas said 15 to 20 percent of the county’s total budget is federal funds or federal funds through the state government. He said the grant application “is nothing inconsistent with what we’ve been doing for decades in terms of local government.”

Vice Chairman Mike Barbee asked if riders had to fill out a Title VI form, which collects information on riders’ gender and general ethnic identification, per the form included in the agenda packet. The form states it is completely voluntary, and Shank added it was for SCUSA staff members.

Shank said he just got approval to change the form slightly, which will need approval by the board at a later meeting, but riders do not have to fill them out.

The form also states, “Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NC DOT) to gather statistical data regarding participants and beneficiaries of the agency’s federal-aid programs and activities.”

Barbee noted the process was voluntary, “but all forms will be held on file which raised a red flag with me.”

Lucas said “in taking the action, you still have to approve the budget in June. If for whatever reason come June you didn’t feel like you had the funding to match the 10 percent required, there is nothing holding your hand to this.” He said the second step is appropriating the matching funds.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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