Rutland Township holds firm on bus issue

Sun City riders could lose service

HUNTLEY – Rutland Township trustees Tuesday remained resolute in their stance that leaves numerous Rutland riders in Sun City Huntley without bus service by the end of the month.

The four trustees have argued that new bus service would inevitably be paid through increased property taxes, breaking a campaign promise to keep taxes low.

They didn’t waver from that position Tuesday during the board’s monthly meeting.

The officials were forced to address the issue after nearby Grafton Township decided last month to cut off its own bus service Nov. 30 to Rutland seniors and disabled riders in Sun City.

In a race against time, Supervisor Margaret Sanders proposed two alternatives that would create a bus service for all Rutland residents.

But the ideas failed to garner a motion that would have triggered a vote.

“The trustees have a (financial) duty to represent property taxpayers ... We four trustees ran on a premise that we would be property tax watchdogs,” Trustee Fred Bulmahn said.

The trustees’ decision likely leaves the Rutland riders in Sun City without a bus service, unless a special meeting is called before Nov. 30 to try and bridge the divide between board members.

The bus conflict developed earlier this summer, when Grafton Supervisor Jim Kearns asked the Rutland board for $14,400 annually to help pay for the Rutland riders.

Grafton has been trying to shed costs, as it rebounds from near bankruptcy earlier this year. It spends $80,000 annually for the service. The village of Huntley also contributes $10,000 a year to help Grafton service riders in Rutland.

Nearly 57 percent of the Grafton bus riders this year are from Rutland.

Kearns’ plea met resistance after the Rutland trustees questioned the need for the service. He then proposed a fare hike on Rutland riders and lowered the board’s annual contribution to $9,600.

Sanders proposed Kearns’ counteroffer Tuesday to continue service to the Rutland riders in Sun City. She also proposed that Rutland join a Kane County bus program that would provide on-call service to residents outside of Sun City.

The solution, she said, would amount to a $2 property tax increase to the average Rutland homeowner.

“I can’t believe that people would not be willing to have their taxes raised by $2 in order to have senior and disabled transportation for the community,” she said.

Trustee John Payson said the bus issue could be revisited when officials sit down to craft a budget next year. Officials then would have more time to assess the long-term costs of running a bus service.

“You have to put a plan together ... If we want to do this, let’s figure out how many rides we are going to do and what items we can cut from our budget to do this and hold our levy flat,” Payson said.

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