Buses delivered, but can’t be used until paid in full
BY KEVIN BONESKE
The Oneida-Vilas Transit Commission is in the process of obtaining a bank loan to purchase three new buses that have been delivered and are parked behind the commission’s office on Stevens Street in Rhinelander, so that those buses could be used after being paid for in full, commission chairman Erv Teichmiller said at Thursday’s executive committee meeting.
Teichmiller said he met a local bank president to talk about the commission’s loan application, which he hopes could be processed in a week to a week and a half. He also noted there is an “ace in the hole” with another bank where he might be able to leverage a loan.
Though the commission is eligible for grant money that would cover most of the purchase price, Teichmiller said the entire cost for the three buses of around $165,000 would have to be paid upfront to get a receipt from the Atlas Bus company in Milwaukee, so that the commission could forward the receipt and other paperwork to the Department of Transportation, which has the grant of around $123,000.
“We don’t get the grant until we give them the receipt,” Teichmiller said. “That receipt then goes to DOT, it goes from there to the Department of Administration and at that point they issue, hopefully quickly, issue a check.”
The process of getting the receipt and getting the check from the DOT, Teichmiller said, would allow the commission to pay off the loan, which he noted may take a month and a half.
Teichmiller said the loan would be for the amount of the grant, while the commission would be able to use money contributed privately and from Vilas County to cover the remaining share of purchasing the buses. He declined to elaborate on those contributions prior to approval of a loan.
Commission manager Jim Altenburg said the three new buses, which are insured and inspected, would be able to go on the road once the payment is made to the bus company.
Last year marked the first full year the two-county commission operated the Northwoods Transit Connections buses, which run in the Rhinelander, Lakeland and Eagle River areas. The commission took over busing transportation services in Oneida County that prior to 2016 had been handled by the county’s Department on Aging. Since then, the passenger base has expanded from the elderly and disabled to now include individuals who are not in those two categories.
The Oneida and Vilas county boards early last year provided the commission an advance of $50,000 each. The commission, which does not have a fund balance to pay its bills like a county or city, has recently requested additional advance funds from the two counties, but neither county has yet to provide them.