HUNTLEY – Village Board members poured an additional $10,000 to keep a taxi service running through the year for elderly residents in Sun City Huntley, who were nearly left without any public transportation last fall.
After some discussion between members, the board on Thursday agreed to continue funding a voucher program with Route 47 Taxi Transportation, which provides on-call rides for the seniors to stores and appointments within Huntley.
The decision also buys officials time to develop and finance a long-term option for 2015 and beyond, said Village President Chuck Sass.
"I don't want to see this in September and October and be faced with this again," Sass said. "There are a lot of other avenues out there, and I think we can come up with something by the end of the year."
Sass and other trustees said the village would have normally used the $10,000 to subsidize Grafton Township's bus system for servicing those Sun City riders in Rutland and Hampshire townships.
But Huntley officials already used $6,000, which Grafton owed Huntley for dropping the service midway through the township's fiscal year, to start the taxi service in December. The additional $10,000 increases Huntley's total cost for the service to $16,000, paid from Huntley's reserves.
The village's financial commitment to a service not in this year's budget drew some questions from Trustee Harry Leopold. He wanted the village to commit $5,000 and revisit the issue after the summer.
"Let's evaluate what happens to it through the summer and bring it up again after the money is nearly out to determine whether we want to go in a different direction." Leopold said, shortly before siding with the other trustees on the $10,000.
Grafton officials last fall scaled back its bus service to cut costs. The move nearly left those elderly Sun City residents without public transportation, after Rutland trustees rejected Grafton's plan to have them help pay for the Rutland residents who used the bus.
Huntley officials entered the debate days before Grafton's cutoff date and partnered with Route 47 Taxi to provide transportation to those Sun City residents living in Rutland and Hampshire townships.
Since launching the service in December, the village has registered roughly 90 residents for taxi rides. Only about 30 of those residents, primarily from Rutland, have regularly used the taxis, said Village Clerk Rita McMahon.
In future years, the village could use numerous alternatives to permanently fund transportation for residents. The options include McRide, McHenry County's dial-a-ride bus service.
But in the meantime, Route 47 Taxi is pleased to provide curb-to-curb rides for residents happy with the service, company representatives said.
"It gives us an opportunity to provide a much needed service to the community," said Business Development Manager Curtis Muldrew.