The Coatesville Link could be one of many casualties of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's decision to phase out the Welfare to Work funding for transportation services across the state. The Daily Local News offered this account on Sunday:
In the past, the Link has been funded by an annual $130,000 in Federal Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) grants, which are designed to help low-income residents travel to and from work, (TMA of Chester County Executive Director Michael) Herron said.
Those federal dollars were matched by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grants amounting $10 million throughout the commonwealth. TANF grants are typically used to fund public assistance, employment training and child care programs.
On July 1, the Department of Public Welfare will cut the matching TANF grants by 30 percent, or $3 million, throughout the commonwealth, Herron said.
The cuts will impact the Link twofold.
"The bulk of the problem is that the federal grants require a match," Herron said. "Every dollar cut by the Department of Public Welfare is one less dollar that we receive from the federal government."
Instead of merely losing 30 percent of $130,000, or $39,000, Link will lose $78,000 a year in grants.
"In comparison to the commonwealth’s entire budget, that sounds like a drop in the bucket," Herron said. "But it will impact our services and other transportation management associations in Pennsylvania."
The upcoming July cuts, however, are the least of his worries.
"Assuming we get though this year, the problem is that next year the Department of Public Welfare plans to cut all $10 million of the matching TANF grants," Herron said.
He said he was confident that bus service would continue through this year, but just how the Link will survive in 2005-06 remains to be seen. Daily Local News
For the TMA of Chester County, DPW funding cuts would also affect the SCCOOT bus in Southern Chester County. Other services in the city and four suburban counties - both operated by SEPTA and other entities - would also be impacted by the DPW's refusal to match the federal Welfare to Work grants.
Also on Sunday, the Inquirer ran an article on the same issue.