Grafton Township seeks rental deal to replace bus

HUNTLEY – Grafton Township has asked Pace for help replacing the aging bus used for the township’s bus service while officials examine ways to fix Grafton’s financial woes.

The township applied late last week to the suburban transit agency’s municipal vehicle program, which allows local governments to rent a bus for up to five years at $100 a month.

The move was needed after the township spent $5,000 alone last month to repair and maintain the 6-year-old bus that transports seniors and disabled residents of the township and surrounding communities in McHenry and Kane counties, Grafton Supervisor Jim Kearns said.

“We are committed to providing the bus service, but we have to figure out the most efficient way of doing it,” Kearns said.

The bus has endured significant wear and tear, accumulating more than 100,000 miles since Grafton received it in 2007, he said. The bus and two other vans make up the township’s service fleet.

Under the rental program, Grafton would have to make a $1,000 deposit that Pace would pay back if the bus is in relatively good shape at the end of the lease agreement. The township also would be responsible for vehicle insurance, maintenance and fuel costs, plus the $100 monthly fee.

“That’s significantly less than if the township was to go out and get a new bus,” Pace spokesman Patrick Wilmot said.

As of last month, municipalities across the Chicago area were renting 89 vehicles from the Pace program, Wilmot said.

To buy a new bus, Grafton would have to spend more than $60,000, Kearns estimated, that the township doesn’t have.

By comparison, Pace’s $100 monthly fee over five years would total $6,000. The township also expects to pay less on upkeep if Pace accepts the application, Kearns said.

Since taking office in May, Kearns and the revamped Grafton Township Board has been looking for ways to reduce costs as they build back a township budget plagued by lawsuits and infighting the past four years under old leadership.

Township officials originally were pursuing a grant from the McHenry County Senior Service Grant Commission with the village of Huntley to replace the bus and help absorb operating costs of the service.

But the partnership was pulled after Huntley wanted to use the grant only for the bus replacement, Kearns said. The township still will apply for the county grant to try and curtail the bus service’s operating expenses, which Kearns estimated has cost Grafton up to $118,000 a year.

The grant deadline is July 22.

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