In December, the C-TRAN Board of Directors approved our 2021 budget. It’s a process that every public agency goes through, but it looks a little different in the age of COVID-19. That’s true for C-TRAN this year, too.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: We’re not cutting service as part of this budget. Every bus on the street now, we expect to remain on the street through the next year.
Due to economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, C-TRAN is adopting a one-year budget in 2021, instead of the two-year budget cycle we usually operate on. In that budget, we’re projecting revenues and expenses to drop compared to the adopted 2020 budget. About 85.5 percent of C-TRAN’s funding comes from local sales tax collections. While overall sales tax revenue still saw positive growth over the course of 2020, it’s uncertain whether that will continue in 2021.
Some cost-saving measures already began in 2020. We’ve put some projects on hold to make sure C-TRAN remains on solid financial footing during and after the pandemic. We’ve also looked for smaller ways to reduce costs with our day-to-day operations.
Here are the numbers:
C-TRAN’s total revenue in 2021 is $68.3 million. Our total expenses are $64.6 million. Both are down compared to the adopted 2020 budget. But we’re still operating in the black because we’re committed to responsible financial management. C-TRAN operates debt-free, and that didn’t change last year. It won’t change in 2021.
Where does C-TRAN’s operating revenue come from? As noted above, the majority of it—about 85 percent—comes from local sales taxes. The rest comes from passenger fares, grants and other sources.
Where does that money go? About two-thirds of C-TRAN’s operating expenses are salaries, wages and benefits. In other words, people—the people who work to keep Clark County moving every day. Other expenses include supplies, services and miscellaneous needs.
While some projects are on hold, major initiatives remain on track. The Mill Plain BRT Project continues to move forward, and is still scheduled to begin construction in 2021. Necessary equipment and technology upgrades will still happen as planned. Those items are covered in the 2021 capital budget, which is adopted with the operating budget.
The bottom line: C-TRAN remains in a financially sound position at the start of this new year. This season has been a challenge for all of us, C-TRAN included, and things didn’t suddenly go back to “normal” on January 1. We recognize that, and we’re planning for the future accordingly.