Commission unanimously OK’s budget

Good morning, readers.

The public transit system in Greater Des Moines will largely maintain the status quo over the next 16 months, under the fiscal year 2012 budget that the DART Commission adopted unanimously Tuesday.

The available service remains 7 percent below 2009 levels, but unlike last year, there are no service cuts assumed in this budget.

There is one possible exception. D-Line route will likely have to be shortened in response to the anticipated loss of state funding for the service. Under the altered route, the trolley would continue traveling between the Western Gateway and the East Village, but it would cease to travel to and from the Capitol Complex. Most likely, the trolley would instead turn around on East Sixth Street.

A few budget highlights:

  • Fares will remain the same on fixed-route and paratransit service. RideShare fares may be adjusted later in the year.
  • Tax rates were neither increased nor decreased from the levels agreed to in 2008 by DART’s member municipalities (including 19 cities and Polk County). That means they will only be adjusted according to the plan to more evenly spread the share of taxes throughout the metro communities.
  • DART’s expenses have been increasing faster than its revenues, so DART is using $1.35 million of reserves to balance next year’s budget. A long-term budget gap will be addressed in the next budget cycle, by which time DART will have completed the DART Forward 2035 master plan, which will include a model for financial stability along with the recommendations for improving service.