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Regional bus agency closes shop, doles out remaining funds

Updated: January 14, 2013 7:33AM



The Northwest Indiana Regional Bus Authority will dissolve Dec. 31 after distributing the last of its funds to the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission and regional transit entities that remain.

“By December 27,” RBA director Tim Brown said, “all the money has to be gone, that’s when we’re closing the accounts.”

The Indiana General Assembly formed the authority in 2005 and provided $12.3 million in seed money from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. The RBA could not find a permanent funding source, however, and ended bus service on June 30.

The authority met Wednesday to decide how the last $588,477 would be spent, dividing a number of expenses among Gary Public Transit Corp., Hammond, East Chicago and the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission.

The committee spent two hours discussing how the remaining funds would be distributed. Some members of the committee said they should let NIRPC determine who receives funds of various amounts. Other committee members said the panel had a responsibility to honor commitments.

How the funds would be distributed became a point of debate when committee member Francisco Ricardo of East Chicago asked that a previous commitment to his city of $70,000, dating from August 2009, be honored.

Some committee members said East Chicago was not included because in 2009, the city did not sign a consolidation agreement. Ricardo said signing a document was not a condition for the $70,000.

“They offered us $70,000,” he said, “There was no contract assignment when we agreed.”

After a number of proposals failed to gather enough votes to pass, the authority moved a total of $60,000 — $40,000 from Valparaiso Transit and $20,000 from GPTC — to East Chicago.

NIRPC will distribute $328,500 to subgrantee organizations like North Township ($41,800), South Lake County Community Services ($83,500), Valparaiso Transit ($182,400), Opportunity Enterprises ($28,500) and Porter County Council on Aging ($32,300). They will use the funds to help meet match requirements when applying for grants.

The RBA will give GPTC $155,691, Hammond $11,290 and East Chicago $60,000.

A remaining $32,995 will be left to handle worker’s compensation, legal fees and any expenses needed to dissolve the authority. If any funds remain, they will be given to NIRPC for transportation needs.



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