City News

Cherriots to finalize $148 million budget in Thursday meeting

The Salem Area Mass Transit District’s board will finalize the budget for buses and public transit projects during its meeting on Thursday, June 27. 

READ IT: Agenda


The board will consider final approval of the district’s $148 million budget for the next year. The district’s budget committee approved the proposed budget on May 7.

The vote will also set the property tax rate of $0.76 per $1,000 of assessed value, unchanged from last year.

The budget includes $6 million for ongoing work to build a South Salem Transit Center, including an environmental review and land acquisition. It also allocates $16.7 million for electric bus and  charging infrastructure, part of a plan to implement an all-electric bus service on Route 11 starting in September. They also plan to add stops and shelters on Local Route 22, for $340,000.

Thursday’s meeting will be in the Senator Hearing Room at Courthouse Square, 555 Court Street N.E. at 5:30 p.m. It will be livestreamed by Capital Community Media. Anyone can provide public comment during the meeting in  person or over Zoom. Written public comments must be submitted by 5 p.m. the day of the meeting to [email protected], or mailed to Attn: Cherriots Board, 555 Court St. NE, Suite 5230, Salem, OR 97301.

The district has about $55 million in savings and is expected to bring in about $92.5 million in tax revenue, federal and state grants, fares and other sources. 

Cherriots plans to spend about $111 million next year, drawing down its savings account to cover remaining expenses. That’s necessary because of higher than expected costs due to inflation, said general manager Allan Pollock in a report to the budget committee ahead of their May vote.

In the past fiscal year, the district had budgeted to dip into its reserves by $15.5 million and instead only used $4.7 million. 

“The reason for the decreased reserve usage is well-managed expenses and capital projects that have rolled over from one year to the next,” said spokeswoman Patricia Feeny in an email.

In the next fiscal year, Cherriots budgeted spending $18.1 million from savings.

In addition to higher costs of goods and services, he said that Cherriots is seeing a slower growth of revenue from property taxes. Statewide measures in the 1990s limited tax increases for local governments. In 2025, $16 million of the district’s $92.5 million in revenue will come from property taxes.

The board is seeking new revenue options for the long-term, and there will be a potential transportation package in the 2025 legislative session, Pollock wrote.


In January through March, bus drivers and security operators faced verbal threats of violence at least eight times, according to the quarterly reportable assault data board members will review on Thursday. 

It’s a decrease from the previous quarter, October through December, which saw 10 verbal incidents and three physical incidents, according to the report.

Most of the incidents happened in February. One rider claimed to have a gun and threatened to shoot a driver and another taunted a security officer while holding a baseball bat.

The board will also consider a $285,000 contract extension with DPI Security inc for unarmed security services at Cherriot’s Del Webb Operations Headquarters next year. Security staff will be present onsite 24 hours a day, seven days a week according to a memo from Pollock.

Other items

-The board will consider a $2.4 million, two-year contract with PetroCard to purchase fuel for services including Cherriots LIFT, regional routes and Shop & Ride, to purchase fuel at various locations. 

-The board will consider its annual donation of 7,500 day passes to United Way, totaling $24,775. The nonprofit will distribute the passes to nonprofit organizations in the community so that people can get to appointments, food and shelter throughout the year.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-575-1251

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.