Trumbull County is moving in the right direction by merging transportation services. Transportation provided by the Department of Elderly Affairs, Job and Family Services and Niles-Trumbull Transit will consolidate under the Trumbull Transit Board.
But the county could take a step back in providing adequate transportation, especially to its elderly citizens, if commissioners fail to provide enough funding in 2013. Budget talks are ongoing.
Demand for public transportation increased so much that commissioners spent all of the county's $600,000+ senior levy carryover to supplement the $250,000 in levy money already budgeted for transportation this year. That could turn out to be a good thing. The heavy demand, and Trumbull's decision to meet it, will weigh in the formula that determines federal matching money.
But failing to provide the same level of funding in the next budget could limit transit services a little next year and a lot in two years. Since federal funding is provided on a two-year ''lag,'' the failure to meet high demand in 2013 will reduce money from Washington in 2015.
Hopefully, commissioners will take advantage of the cost-saving measures they implemented last month when they consolidated transportation agencies. This decision reduces payroll, especially at the top of Elderly Affairs. It also enables the county to sell vehicles it will no longer need.
The goal of consolidating services should be to save money that could be returned to taxpayers. Leveraging the savings to increase federal grants is a logical alternative. Simply spending the savings elsewhere should not be a consideration.