HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Coast RTA is asking Horry County Council for $500,000 to keep senior services going and preserve jobs. The RTA was not originally included in the county's budget for the next fiscal year, but leaders with the group are now appealing.
Coast RTA General Manager Myers Rollins says the group provides critical services to residents and visitors throughout the Grand Strand.
"I think that we're all facing financial challenges and I think at the end of the day we have to ask ourselves the value of assisting residents and members of the public," said Rollins. "They need to access jobs, medical appointments, and to maintain a high level of life."
Betty Huggins, a routine RTA passenger, says without the bus service she would be hard pressed to find an alternative means of transportation.
"They pick me up at 6 a.m. three times a week and take me to dialysis," said Huggins. "Without them I would have to use a taxi service, which costs three times more."
Huggins is just one of several seniors and veterans that utilize the Coast RTA's paratransit service. For $3 seniors and veterans can call the RTA to receive round trip door-to-door service to their medical appointments and errands.
Rollins says the service would be the first to go if council does not approve funding. He says between 15 and 20 operations and administrative jobs would also be cut.
Friday afternoon council members weighed the pros and cons of funding the Coast RTA for another year. County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier says the challenge would be finding where the council could take money from to help support the RTA.
One option council members discussed was a special millage that could help pay for the RTA. This millage would affect all Horry County residents.
County council has until the end of June to approve a final budget.