Volunteer Transportation Center increases mileage reimbursement as gas prices soar | WWTI

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Gas prices across the country are continuing to rise to historic rates, further impacting across the North Country.

This includes those who volunteer for the Volunteer Transportation Center based in Watertown, which provides rides to health care appointments, food sources and other critical needs destinations for residents.

Volunteer drivers use their personal vehicles and receive mileage reimbursement to assist with the overall cost of operating their vehicles, including repairs, insurance and gas they use to complete trips.

But according to VTC Executive Director Sam Purington, these volunteers are feeling the impacts of soaring gas prices, and in response, the organization adjusted its mileage reimbursement rate from $0.445 per mile to $0.50 per mile, which is equivalent to a 12% increase. This took effect on March 4, 2022.

“We recognized the hardship that I think we’re all facing as gas prices increase and wanted to do something to at least take off some of the burdens for our dedicated volunteer drivers,” Purington said in a press release.

In 2021, the VTC provided over one million miles of charitable transportation in the tri-county area including Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. This was equivalent to $477,679 in mileage reimbursement. The VTC is able to provide charitable transportation is through donations from the community and fundraisers.

But Purington additionally noted that more challenges may be presented as the need for charitable transportation grows.

“We’re investigating temporarily limiting services, providing essential-only trips like those to cancer treatment, dialysis and other life-sustaining services,” Purington added. “It’s not something we want to do but we have to provide services within our means as we face this financial challenge.”

Decisions on these proposals are set to be discussed in the coming weeks.

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