HUNTLEY – Rutland Township officials seemingly have reached the consensus that senior citizens and disabled Rutland Township residents in Sun City, Huntley, likely won’t have a bus service come Nov. 30.
But Rutland officials differ on whether the end of a bus service for those with mobility issues is the best decision for their constituents.
On Tuesday, the Rutland board passed on the opportunity to fund a bus system for residents, with the board’s four trustees wanting more information on potential options.
“Basically nothing happened at the meeting,” Rutland Township Supervisor Margaret Sanders said. “They want it on the next agenda and want more information. I’m a little disgusted at the whole thing.”
Grafton Township Supervisor Jim Kearns had earlier informed Rutland officials that his township would stop serving Rutland residents in Sun City by Nov. 30, unless Rutland decided to contribute $24,000 toward the $80,000 that Grafton spends annually to operate its bus system.
Nearly 57 percent of the more than 4,100 seniors and disabled residents who use Grafton’s bus service are Rutland Sun City residents. Grafton has been trying to conserve costs as it rebounds from near bankruptcy earlier this year.
Sanders presented the board Tuesday with the idea of joining Kane County’s “Ride in Kane” program, which provides on-call buses to senior citizens and disabled residents throughout the county.
Kearns also presented the board with a counteroffer. He would raise fares to Rutland residents from $1 to $4 per ride and ask Rutland Township to pay $1,200 a month, or $14,400 total for the year.
The fare increase and Rutland’s contribution still would bring $24,000 total to Grafton’s coffers, Kearns said.
But the board’s four trustees balked at both options, preferring more time to review the matter. The board will meet Nov. 12 to discuss the issue, but Sanders said she doubted Rutland could get a system in place by Nov. 30.
She still is committed to the idea of providing a bus service to all Rutland residents but is lost on ideas that would satisfy Rutland trustees.
“I’m open to any suggestions that the community has to offer,” Sanders said.
A part of the concern over creating Rutland’s own bus service is that it ultimately will lead to property-tax increases, said Rutland Township Trustee Charleen Carlsen, who campaigned on keeping property taxes flat for residents.
Carlsen has rejected the notion that Rutland has enough reserves to pay for a service, arguing that the reserve fund can’t sustain the service in future years. The other issue, she said, is that a public bus service discourages residents to take ownership of their lives.
“What we do as senior citizens, hopefully, is form a support system. We have neighbors, we have friends, we have family. If I can’t do it, I’ll call to ask,” Carlsen said. “People tend to feel they are entitled, that they can’t do anything for themselves. They want things in front of their door, and I disagree with that.”
Asked whether Rutland Sun City riders would have a bus service by Nov. 30, Carlsen replied: “Speaking for only myself, no.”
The news disheartened Dianne Hansen, a 75-year-old Rutland Sun City resident who has used the Grafton Township bus for the past three years.
Hansen physically can’t drive and uses a walker to get around. She said she uses the bus for doctor visits, grocery shopping and even to make haircut appointments.
“It’s my life saver,” she said.