Could special tax be answer to Rutland's bus woes?
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Even though the Rutland Township board refused to make a decision on financing bus service for its senior and disabled residents, Township Supervisor Margaret Sanders isn't giving up.
At the same time, officials from Huntley and the Sun City subdivision have no interest in starting their own bus system, but in Sun City's case, officials are figuring out how to help the 130 Rutland residents who won't have transportation after Nov. 30.
Sanders said she plans to ask Huntley to form a special service area tax that would generate enough money to pay for bus service in Rutland's portion of Sun City.
"I will be doing this on Monday," Sanders said.
The authority to establish a special service area lies with the municipality or the county, said John Regan, an attorney who represents Elgin Community College and the Dundee Township Park District. Townships do not have the authority to form one, he said.
"It's really Huntley's call," Regan said. "This is really outside the scope of what townships can do."
To qualify for a SSA, the proposed service has to benefit the public and be unique to any other service Huntley offers. Regan said a SSA for bus service qualifies on both fronts.
If Huntley moved to create an SSA for bus service, it would pass an ordinance, hold public hearings and possibly adopt the ordinance to levy a tax on Rutland residents for the bus service, Regan said. Residents would also have a right to veto the measure, Regan said.
Huntley Village Trustee Harry Leopold isn't ready to have a conversation about an SSA until Sanders asks the village to create one.
"We would have to do a lot of research into the benefits (and) the needs that are being met before we were to just automatically say yes or no," Leopold said.
The discussion comes days after the Rutland board failed to act on two proposals to keep bus service available there.
That means Grafton Township, which has shuttled Rutland's Sun City residents for six years without a financial contribution from Rutland, will terminate service to Rutland at the end of the month due to budgeting issues.
Sun City, a subdivision for seniors, straddles Grafton and Rutland townships.
"I don't like being put into a corner, and we were made the bad guy of a situation Grafton got into," Rutland Trustee Charleen Carlsen said. "They didn't consult with us when they made the decision to have the bus in the first place. So now that they're in trouble, they're making us the fall guy. And the voters feel that way as well."
Due to the expense and other responsibilities associated with a bus system, neither Sun City nor Huntley are interested in forming one to rival Grafton's.
Bonnie Bayser, president of Sun City's board of directors, dispatched an advisory committee to find organizations that offer transportation and connect them with Rutland residents.
Those efforts have been going on for about a month, but ratcheted up after Rutland's inaction.
"We are sympathetic, and we're trying," Bayser said. "We were hoping Rutland was going to come through."
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