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Article updated: 10/9/2013 12:41 PM

Rutland Township board defers vote on funding senior, disabled bus service

The Rutland Township board deferred a decision Tuesday night on whether to fund senior and disabled transportation services currently provided for free by Grafton Township. Grafton has threatened to discontinue the bus service Nov. 30 due to budget woes. That township's board will take an official vote Oct. 21 to terminate the service to Rutland.

The Rutland Township board deferred a decision Tuesday night on whether to fund senior and disabled transportation services currently provided for free by Grafton Township. Grafton has threatened to discontinue the bus service Nov. 30 due to budget woes. That township's board will take an official vote Oct. 21 to terminate the service to Rutland.

 

Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

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The Rutland Township board deferred a decision Tuesday night on whether to fund senior and disabled transportation services currently provided for free by Grafton Township.

Grafton has threatened to discontinue the bus service Nov. 30 due to budget woes. That township's board will take an official vote Oct. 21 to terminate the service to Rutland.

The Rutland town board will review the issue again next month since several trustees were not ready to vote on the expense until alternative options had been considered.

"I always resist rushing into anything without having explored all of the options," township Trustee Fred Bulmahn said. "I'm opposed to anything that's not means tested or needs based."

Grafton Township Supervisor James Kearns offered an alternate proposal Monday after originally demanding that Rutland pay Grafton $24,000 a year at $2,000 a month to keep the service running.

Kearns offered to keep the service intact if Rutland pays Grafton $1,200 a month, which would generate $14,400 a year. Grafton would then raise the fares for Rutland residents from $1 to $4 each way. The fare hike would help Grafton collect the outstanding $9,600 and both efforts combined would generate $24,000 a year, he said.

"I'm not trying to make money here. I'm just trying to cut some of the costs," Kearns said. "If someone gives a little bit, I'll give a little bit. I don't see you getting it any cheaper anywhere else."

Kearns' proposal means less money would have to come out of Rutland's coffers.

But Rutland Township board members were uncomfortable paying for a service that only serves a portion of the township.

All of the Rutland Township's riders that use Grafton's bus service are from Sun City senior living community in Huntley.

The town board heard from several Sun City residents concerned about the possible discontinuation of the bus service.

"There are a lot of people in the community who can't drive for various reasons," Linda Hallman said. "People don't want to disclose their disabilities or their age."

Rutland Township resident Mary Kozy said the board should consider using some of the township's reserves to fund senior transportation for now and charge developers impact fees to fund the program in future.

She also suggested the township contract with Ride in Kane -- a program used in Elgin, Campton, Dundee, Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, Kaneville and Aurora townships and one Rutland Township is now considering.

In the program, the county partners with Pace Suburban Bus to run a dispatch center that sends taxis, Pace vans and buses to registered disabled and senior riders for trips around Kane County. Rides are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The customer pays $3 per ride for the first 10 miles and $1.50 every mile thereafter. The participating township picks up the rest of the tab, which varies according to distance.

Rutland Township Supervisor Margaret Sanders said the fare is expected to go up to $4 per ride in January. "If we are going to provide transportation, we have to do it for the whole township, not part of the township," she said.

Resident Jim Darow said the township is not required by state law to provide a senior bus service and he doesn't support the use of taxpayer dollars for it. "I don't see that the township has any responsibility to provide this kind of service to any of its residents," he said.

Darow suggested that the village of Huntley chip in more for the service benefiting primarily its residents.

Huntley already has paid $10,000 toward the service to help Grafton offset the cost of transporting Rutland residents. Kearns said he would return the unused portion -- $5,800 -- to the village, if the service is discontinued.

• Daily Herald staff writer Lenore T. Adkins contributed to this report.

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