Jim Kelly

During the city council meeting Monday, June 17, owner of the Sidney Shuttle Jim Kelly spoke about keeping the taxi service afloat in town. He is hoping to gain local business sponsorships to help offset rising costs of operation. Kelly is pictured here with one of his vans in 2015.

Sidney Shuttle owner Jim Kelly spoke to Sidney City Council at the June 17 meeting about the struggles he’s facing as a business owner. With increasingly tightened insurance regulations, Kelly wanted city council to be aware of the threats to the local cab company.

“I’m not looking for a profit,” Kelly said. “But what we want to do is keep Sidney Shuttle alive. I want to ask if we can get some help some how in working with private businesses to sponsor what we do.”

In the past, the cab company has had up to nine sponsorships from local businesses, including local bars, who covered insurance costs for Sidney Shuttle for some time. Current sponsors are Lee’s Tire, M&C Beverage out of Miles City, Clipper Cuts and Fu-Hao Restaurant. Because Kelly does most of his business out of the bars, he hopes to regain sponsorship there.

“The Sidney Shuttle is not a huge money making endeavor,” Kelly said. “It keeps itself going, but what we’ve had lately is some increase in our insurance and a few other things.”

Kelly can no longer employee drivers under age 25 and vehicles must now be no more than 15 years old. In the next two years, Kelly will have to retire all of his current vans.

One of Kelly’s biggest concerns is Sidney losing the valuable service provided by the shuttle. Sponsorships would help the owner combat the insurance regulations and costs. Kelly said any profit gained from business sponsors would be given back to the community in the form of free ride tickets from the DUI Task Force or the chamber. Sponsors would also help Kelly become more competitive as an employer.

“I can’t pay oil field wages, but I have to have drivers. I have to be able to pay drivers enough to keep them,” he said.

Kelly emphasized that he doesn’t wish to collect sponsorships for personal profit, but rather to improve the quality of his business for his employees and customers. He’s aiming for sustainability. Kelly has worked closely with the DUI Task Force and the Sidney Chamber, who both support the Sidney Shuttle by purchasing free ride tickets for events.

“The people that use us depend on us,” Kelly said.

At the meeting, Mayor Rick Norby said council simply can’t divert tax-payer dollars to a private business.

“I know you’re not looking to make a fortune,” Norby said. “Some words of advice: I think you need to raise your rate.”

Kelly said he can’t raise the fare rates until he writes a new tariff to the state, a process he is working on.

City council agreed the support for Sidney Shuttle needs to come from private businesses in town.

“Whenever there’s an event that has alcohol, we very much push Sidney Shuttle,” Norby said. “It is a very, very, very important thing to our community.”

To become a sponsor of the Sidney Shuttle, Jim Kelly can be contacted at (406)433-3636.

In other news:

  • Meadowlark Brewing received permission to block off their back parking lot Saturday, July 13, for their inaugural Summer Festival.
  • Sidney Kiwanis Club had their request approved to block off 5th Street SW between the middle school and Veterans Park Friday, July 12, for their pie social.
  • Luke Savage was appointed city judge.
  • City attorney Tom Kalil informed city council he was working on a records and information request policy. He expects to have a final draft at the next council meeting.
  • Resolution 3803 was passed, calling for a municipal primary election which will be held 85 days from the passing of the resolution, Sept. 10. It will be conducted by mail.
  • Resolution 3804 was passed by council, appointing Kale Rasmussen as deputy clerk of court.
  • Resolution 3802 was approved, establishing salaries and hourly wages for officers of the City of Sidney for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Wages are as follows:

Director of Public Works — $5,884.97/month

Utility manager — $5,884.97/month

Water commissioner — $5,629.87/month

Sewer commissioner — $4,384.26/month

City clerk/treasurer — $5,666.81/month

Chief of police — $6,289.62/month

Fire marshal/building inspector — $4,838.17/month

Mayor — $2,000/month

City council member — $125/meeting

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