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posted: 9/11/2013 5:30 AM

Rutland Twp. looks at bus options for seniors, disabled

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While Grafton Township leaders have threatened to cancel bus service to senior and disabled residents using it in neighboring Rutland Township, Rutland officials don't know whether they'll pick up where Grafton may leave off.

Rutland Township board members said Tuesday night they will continue to discuss how and whether to provide transportation to those groups in the township. The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 8.

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Grafton Township supervisor James Kearns had asked Rutland Township to contribute to the cost of the bus service, which is used by many seniors and disabled people living in the Rutland portion of Sun City, or Grafton would quit providing it.

Rutland Township Supervisor Margaret Sanders said she's looked into the possibility of using Kane County's Dial-a-Ride Program, but she stressed those rides should only be for people who need them for medical reasons or in special circumstances. It would cost the township between $20,000 and $30,000 a year, but the riders would pay $3 to $4 a ride, plus $1.50 per mile for rides longer than 10 miles.

If Rutland opted for this service, township staff would have to screen passengers to ensure they were eligible for the service. Rides also only could be within Kane County, which wouldn't help riders with medical appointments in McHenry County.

Money is another issue. Some Rutland Township trustees said they would rather not raise the property tax levy to pay for the service or to support what Grafton Township already does.

"What can we do without the township going broke?," Trustee John Payson said. "Let's look for something sustainable if we're going to do it."

But some residents at the meeting said Rutland should do more to support its senior and disabled populations.

"Frugality is a virtue; cheapness is a defect," Sun City resident Herm Faubl said. "Please practice the virtue of charity."

Rutland's back is against the wall because after six years of picking up Rutland riders, Grafton has had enough of giving them for free.

Grafton Township Supervisor James Kearns has threatened to eliminate rides to Rutland, due to the financial burden they have put on Grafton. The service has been going on since 2007 and it has included Grafton and select Rutland residents from the beginning.

The service costs Grafton about $80,000 a year, and even with Huntley officials contributing $10,000 annually, Grafton is expected to run a $67,000 deficit in the next budget, Kearns said.

As it is, Rutland residents make up 58 percent of the ridership, so it's only fair the township contributes money toward the bus service, Kearns said. The average cost per round-trip ride is $33.50, and the township charges between $2 and $6 per person depending on the destination, Kearns said. He wants Rutland officials to contribute $24,000 a year and has given Rutland until November to respond to a recent request he made for financial support. If there's no response or if the answer is no, then the free rides to Rutland residents are over, he said.

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