Para-transit riders concerned about possible cuts in Macon-Bibb budget

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Residents in Macon-Bibb County who use the city’s para-transit services hope commissioners won’t overlook them as they look to finalize the 2015 fiscal year budget. 

Barney Strickland hasn’t had his own car is almost a decade. 

He says his condition has left him to rely on Macon-Bibb’s para-transit services to get around the county. 

The program is facing more than $100,000 in cuts, including the possible loss of its Saturday service. 

“If you can’t get to malls, if you can’t get to grocery stores on Saturday it makes it even worse,” Strickland said. 

Macon-Bibb commissioners are looking to wrap up their first ever budget as a consolidated government. 

The possible cuts are frustrating for Michael Leverett. He’s the executive director for disability connections. 

“You can’t just lob it off like an appendage. It’s going to affect the whole system. So when they think they’re cutting para-transit, they’re cutting the transit authority services,” Leverett said. 

He says the biggest challenge would be for residents who desperately need the service to be picked up and dropped off. 

A customized vehicle outfitted for a person with disabilities could cost upward of $100,000. 

“People who rely on this form of transportation will be locked out of the Macon community for a whole weekend,” Leverett said. 

That’s a big problem for Strickland said, and he’s hoping commissioners will consider that before their decision is final. 

“We’re the last they think about when appropriating money or extra money that they have. And we’re the first, when they think about cutting. It’s very frustrating,” Strickland said. 

The para-transit service program helps more than 100 people.

Cuts to the programs Saturday service would eliminate weekend operation entirely. 

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