ASHLAND -- Ashland City Council approved a resolution Tuesday night which will allow the Ashland Public Transit system to file applications for federal and state grant money with the long-term goal of relocating to a more practical and permanent residency.
With the approval, the city will commit $176,000 to the Ashland Public Transit system, but will receive $784,000 in grant funding.
The Ashland Public Transit system hopes to see nearly $500,000 of revenue in 2021.
Ashland Public Transit provides approximately 30,000 rides to community members per year.
"It is a service that is important to the people of Ashland and it continues to grow year after year," Mayor Matt Miller said. "The public transit system here in Ashland is actually run out of City Hall.
"All of the vehicles sit in the back of the city parking lot here at City Hall. We are working hard to try to figure out where we can one day move transit and get all of those vehicles inside and make it more user-friendly for the staff."
Liz McClurg, Transit Coordinator for the Ashland Public Transit system, tackles the yearly budget for the coalition. A majority of the funding for the transit service has been funded by grant money for several years.
Ashland Public Transit currently employs fourteen staff members, including 12 who are full-time. The system also presently has nine vehicles in operation.
McClurg strives to add a vehicle to the Ashland Public Transit fleet every two to three years. The city has been weighing its options as to whether in the future they will rent a space or purchase a facility for the transit system.
Councilman Dennis Miller commended Liz McClurg and the staff of the Ashland Public Transit system.
"They just do a phenomenal job," Dennis Miller said. "It's a wonderful service that is provided to the citizens.
"People don't realize that it's not just to travel to Ashland, you can go to Cleveland or Columbus. Don't hesitate to contact them for that."
The Ashland Public Transit system operates on a 100-mile radius.
During the mayor's comments portion of the meeting, Mayor Miller took the time to address a few issues.
To begin, Miller applauded the efforts of the Ashland Street Department for tackling the road care over the past few evenings due to the heavy snowfall.
Miller also reminded community members and local businesses they need to shovel the sidewalks in front of their complexes, in particular the businesses on Claremont Avenue and Main Street. Pedestrians are reported to be walking into the street to pass the snow.
Also, the top set of train tracks on Union Street near 4th Street will be removed. Removal is expected to begin right away.
Mayor Miller also acknowledged Ashland community members can expect an additional surcharge and an increased monthly water bill because of the necessary improvements to deteriorating water lines. The surcharge will go directly into a capital improvement fund that will be utilized solely to improve and repair the corroded water system.
"The city has not had a water increase for more than a decade," the mayor said. "It is likely that here in the near future that we'll have to have a water-rate increase.
"It will inevitably come. I don't want anyone to be caught off-guard."
Replacing water lines are a costly endeavor; the estimated rate to install new water lines on Forestdale Road will be approximately $100,000. With a multitude of streets requiring reconstruction, the city will likely spend millions to compensate for the necessary improvement measures.