Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
With additional donations made this week, the North Central Montana Transit System now has $90,000 pledged from local groups and governments toward its operating expenses. The Hill County Commission Friday approved a final budget that included $15,000 toward the transit system. The system has had buses transporting passengers from Fort Belknap Agency and Box Elder to Havre and back, and to Great Falls on Tuesdays and Thursdays, since Aug. 24. The initial funding for the system was a $75,000 startup grant from the Montana Department of Transportation and $227,000 to purchase buses expected to be in Havre early next year through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The system has tried to find commitments from seven governments and organizations to put $30,000 each toward the first year of the system’s operation. Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette said, despite the county having to scrape some $800,000 in savings to balance its budget this year, the commissioners found ways to fund the system. “That was a priority,” she said. Other funding has followed. Montana State University-Northern Monday morning gave $30,000 to the system, and the Havre City Council Monday night approved a $15,000 allocation. The anti-poverty organization Opportunity Link Inc. also has allocated $30,000. Other entities have pledged or already donated in-kind services or cash to help with the funding of the transit system, including the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation and the cities of Chinook and Harlem. Jim Lyons said Blaine County has earmarked money for the system as well. Hill County Commissioner Mike Anderson said, for the benefit of the members of the communities and for economic development, the Hill County commissioners believed they had to find funding. “If we’re going to move ahead in this community, we have to support it,” he said.