HUNTLEY – The village of Huntley is looking to keep a bus service running for the numerous Rutland Township residents in Sun City Huntley set to lose public transportation beginning Saturday.
The details on how Huntley would devise a short-term solution to help Grafton Township run its bus service in Rutland beyond Saturday remains uncertain, said Village Manager Dave Johnson.
But the 11th-hour move would at least involve Huntley using the remaining portion of the $10,000 it sends annually to Grafton Township for the service to keep buses running uninterrupted in Rutland.
"At this point, we are exploring some possible short-term alternatives. Until I know more about it, I can't go into a lot of detail," Johnson said. "We are exploring the possibility of using those (remaining) dollars to assist Rutland riders."
Huntley's decision to intervene is the latest twist in an ongoing issue that has so far pitted two neighboring townships against each other. The village's involvement comes after some trustees in a meeting late last week expressed a desire to help Rutland residents.
In an effort to shed costs, Grafton officials earlier this fall asked the Rutland Board to contribute $14,400 annually to Grafton's bus service in exchange for fare hikes on the Rutland residents who use the bus.
Grafton warned that service to Rutland would be cutoff Nov. 30, if no additional funding was made. But Rutland trustees rejected Grafton's offer twice during the board's monthly meetings in October and November over property tax concerns.
Rutland has never contributed money to Grafton for the service. More than half of Grafton's bus riders this year come from Rutland. Huntley also gives $10,000 annually to Grafton to run the service in Rutland.
Grafton Supervisor Jim Kearns welcomed Huntley's involvement in the issue. But he said he is yet to hear from Huntley on a potential solution.
"I'm extremely encouraged that somebody is even considering it ... but the bus will end on Nov. 30 unless someone commits to me that something is coming," Kearns said. "If somebody comes up with a new plan, we will review it."
Huntley would at least use the $5,800 remaining on its annual contribution to Grafton to help keep service running in Rutland, Johnson said.
The village would not look to contribute more funding to Grafton for the service. The short-term solution also would not need Village Board approval since the money involved has already been appropriated, Johnson said.
Trustee Nick Hanson made a similar, impromptu proposal during the end of a meeting last week. After some debate, the board directed the village administration to contact Grafton.
Hanson said he wanted the village to intervene so that the many seniors who rely on the service wouldn't be left without accessible transportation.
"It's an unnecessary, unfair hardship to put Rutland Township residents in," Hanson said.