Kent-Sussex Industries, Inc. (KSI) is celebrating 50 years of providing employment to individuals with disabilities this year but recently the organization has been met with several operational challenges including the cost of its transportation services. In 2011 KSI’s transportation services made 102,877 trips, costing the organization over $2 million. Currently KSI transportation services are seriously underfunded by approximately $1 million per year.
As the State of Delaware Joint Finance Committee continues to consider the next fiscal year for the State’s budget, KSI is asking elected officials to consider an increase in their State funding. Acting as a private business for the last 50 years, KSI has been able to fund 93% of their corporation, the remaining 7% comes from grant-in-aid support from the State of Delaware and additional funds from the United Way, but as transportation costs continue to rise KSI cannot continue to provide the services at the current levels.
“KSI has always had a business model to be self-sufficient,” stated KSI CEO Craig Crouch. “We have always been a victim of our own success. Transportation has always been an area where we cannot cover our costs and with the increase in gas and services we have had to use our reserves, now there are no more.”
KSI provides vocational services to the State of Delaware consumers under contract with the State. According to information released by KSI, approximately 98% of the trips KSI provides are actually the responsibility of Delaware Transit Corporation (DTC), saving the State approximately $4.3 million dollars in State Fiscal Year 2011 alone. Over the past 5 years fiscal years, KSI has lost a total of $4.3 million with a loss of $988,499 in State Fiscal Year 2011. To be able to continue their services to disabled workers in the state of Delaware, KSI is asking the State Government to increase their State funding to include $1 million to be appropriated for transportation.
If KSI were to eliminate their transportation services, the transit for most of the individuals working as part of KSI would likely fall under the responsibility of DART’s paratransit services. With an already stretched system, officials at DELDOT (Delaware Department of Transportation) confirm that it would be difficult to accommodate the additional workload if KSI transportation services were transferred to them.
According to Jayson Crouch, Vice President of KSI, Delaware Transit Corporation would incur an additional cost of $4,070,000 ($3,085,000 net) if KSI eliminated their transportation services in Kent and Sussex Counties. From the start, DTC could not support 15%, 17,025 trips, due to individuals working the 3-11 shift that runs outside the service times of DTC.
“KSI provides that transportation service for half of the cost compared to DTC,” commented Mr. Crouch. “An investment by the State of Delaware of $988,499 in KSI transportation would save the State a net $2,860,000 annually.”
Leaders at KSI continue to meet with elected officials from around the state of Delaware to share their concerns over their transportation needs. Currently the Joint Finance Committee, responsible for writing the annual appropriations and grant-in-aid acts, is preparing the actual bills for introduction to the Delaware legislature. The State budget for 2013 will be decided on in late June.