City committed to maintaining Handivan service

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN)- Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird assured the public that the City will continue to provide transportation services to help those with disabilities get to work, school, appointments and other locations around the City on Saturday.

StarTran currently provides two-thirds of the HandiVan rides. As part of the proposed mid-biennium budget changes, StarTran would expand its service to cover the other one-third of rides, now handled a private company. The contract with that company, Transport Plus is scheduled to end January 31, 2020.

“We remain committed to providing reliable public transportation that meets the needs of all our residents,” said Mayor Gaylor Baird. “This change will allow us to maintain the same level of high quality HandiVan service at a significantly lower cost for taxpayers.”

Transport Plus contract prices increased 25% between November 2017 and February 2019. Transport Plus charges $33 (day) $35 (evening) per trip compared to StarTran’s cost of $26.60 for the same trip. StarTran’s analysis showed that the City could add the vehicles and staffing necessary to take over all HandiVan service and still save more than $147,000 in the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The saving would increase in future years. Mayor Gaylor Baird said the City has expressed concern to Transport Plus about the rate increases since 2017 and informed the company in July that StarTran may take over all service instead of renewing the contract in January 2020.

The change is one of the budget modifications the Mayor has proposed to close a shortfall in sales tax revenue. The budget changes were introduced to the City Council August 19. A public hearing and vote on the changes are on the agenda for the City Council meeting which begins at 5:30 p.m. Monday, August 26 in the City Council Chambers, first floor of the County-City Building, 555 S. 10th Street.

The City property tax rate will not change because of the sales tax shortfall and the changes proposed by Gaylor Baird. The only change in the City property tax rate will be for the voter-approved stormwater bond issue.

More information on the City budget is available at Lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: finance).