CARBONDALE - Bus drivers, mechanics and other employees of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority will be eligible for merit raises of as much as 3 percent next year, according to a budget by the agency passed Thursday.
RFTA workers also had the opportunity for 3-percent merit raises this year. The agency had a wage freeze in 2010 and 2011.
RFTA's board of directors, meeting in Carbondale, approved a $48.70 million budget. Fares won't be raised, but the agency expects fare revenues to increase by 2 percent. A modest increase in sales tax revenues also is expected.
Health care premiums will increase by 9 percent. RFTA will maintain current employee contribution amounts.
The bus agency's expansion of service through its bus-rapid-transit project is expected to add $680,000 in operating costs when it starts in September. For a full year, starting in 2014, the extra operating expense is expected to be $2 million.
Spending on diesel fuel is expected to decrease 9 percent, or $220,000 less than the forecast for 2012 because RFTA is locking into a lower price. However, overall fuel costs will increase because of the expanded service. RFTA is adding 22 buses that will operate on compressed natural gas.
The agency also intends to outsource its legal services rather than have a staff attorney. Walter Mathews was fired as general counsel in October by RFTA's board of directors for unspecified reasons.