Local transit gets funding hike

FAIRMONT – Martin County Transit’s commuter service between Fairmont and Blue Earth has resulted in a boost to the transit’s budget.

For 2014, the county has been OK’d for a higher operating expense of $714,000, an increase of 26 percent from 2013. Of the cost, 85 percent is covered by a grant, with the remaining 15 percent covered locally.

“We are projected to meet our local share through our fares collections,” said Martin County Coordinator, Scott Higgins.

Revenue for Martin County Transit is projected to be about $147,000 in 2014.

About half of the increase for Martin County Transit’s budget stems from combining the commuter service from Fairmont to Blue Earth into the public transit program.

Included in Transit’s 2014 budget are expenses of $36,000 for camera systems for all buses, $9,000 for route match dispatch training, and $12,000 for building improvements.

Capital expenses include the purchase of a new bus, estimated at $70,000. Capital expenses are split 80/20, with 80 percent covered by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

In other business Tuesday, Martin County commissioners addressed a request from the Assessor’s Office to install glass in its main service window, preferably bulletproof glass.

Quotes came in at $3,050 for tempered glass and $5,900 for bulletproof.

“I’d hate to spend $3,000 on glass, then have something happen and think, ‘We should’ve spent $6,000,'” said commission chairman Dan Schmidtke. “I think all of our employees are worth at least $6,000.”

But Commissioner Steve Pierce argued the added cost is not needed.

“We toured the $42 million security facility in Blue Earth County,” Pierce recalled. “There is no bulletproof glass in that facility. If they don’t think they need it in this new facility, I don’t think we need it here.”

“Why would we put glass in if it’s not bulletproof?” asked Commissioner Elliot Belgard.

“Where does it stop?” Pierce asked. “There’s the break room across the hall, the other offices; where is it going to end?”

Commissioner Steve Donnelly made a motion to approve a window for the Assessor’s Office without bulletproof glass. The motion passed 3-2, with Schmidtke and Belgard dissenting.

In other action, commissioners:

o Approved the hire of a temporary part-time employee for the Martin County Recorder’s office. The position is for data entry projects. Current staff does not have enough time to complete the work. Pay for the position is covered by the Recorder’s Office technology fund.