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Article posted: 10/11/2013 5:00 AM

Editorial: Continue senior, disabled bus service

Brian Hill/bhill@dailyherald.com  Grafton Township's senior bus service is in peril due to lack of funds.

Brian Hill/bhill@dailyherald.com Grafton Township's senior bus service is in peril due to lack of funds.

 
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By The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Washington, D.C., is not the only place where politicians are having a difficult time compromising before a deadline halting constituent services.

On a much smaller scale, but one that affects the lives of those perhaps most needy, a Kane County township board this week delayed making a decision on whether to pay for a bus service some of its senior and disabled residents have been using since 2007.

Here's the issue: Grafton Township in McHenry County has been paying about $80,000 a year for seniors and disabled residents to use a bus service that takes riders to Huntley Outlet Center, stores on Randall Road, Centegra Hospital in Woodstock and other locations. The bus service is especially important to residents of Sun City in Huntley, which is split between Grafton and Rutland townships.

Here is the rub: While the village of Huntley helps support this service by contributing $10,000 as part of an intergovernmental agreement with Grafton Township, Rutland Township contributes nothing. Understandably, Grafton Township officials would like that to change.

And if it doesn't? Grafton Township Supervisor James Kearns says Grafton will stop providing the bus to Rutland residents. A vote on that will take place Oct. 21.

"I'm not trying to make money here. I'm just trying to cut some of the costs," Kearns said this week after making a new proposal to the Rutland board that essentially asks them to pay $14,400 a year. A fare hike would be implemented to cover more of the costs to get to a $24,000-a-year figure that Kearns originally asked Rutland to pay.

Discussions on this bus service have been ongoing since June. But this week Rutland still deferred any decision to next month, putting it dangerously close to a Nov. 30 deadline set by Kearns.

We agree with Rutland officials that they should explore all options -- we just aren't sure why they haven't explored all those options already. One of their concerns, stated by township Supervisor Margaret Sanders, ironically a resident of Sun City, is that transportation should be provided to those who need it throughout the township.

And that's a good point as well. Townships throughout the suburbs, while not required to provide services for seniors and disabled, have done just that and is one reason township government remains in place. As the population ages, these kinds of services are essential and townships must be expected to help fill the void.

It makes sense to us that Rutland continue a service some of its residents have utilized for six years (they account for 58 percent of the riders) and in the process make a commitment to provide similar services to the rest of the township after they've explored all their options.

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