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McHenry Township residents vote to fund senior bus service through March 31

Residents direct supervisor to allocate money for senior program

McHenry Township residents voted Friday for the township supervisor to allocate funding for the senior bus program.

The township board voted to cancel the service in June, and the program was set to end Nov. 30. It now will run through at least March 31 after voters overwhelmingly approved a resolution that called for $100,000 to be transferred from the township general fund surplus to keep the service going.

Township resident Don Kinsala said he thought it was “ridiculous” that the matter had reached this point.

“I am a very, very senior citizen, and I am tired of coming here every couple of weeks for the same reason,” Kinsala said. “There is a need for all of you ... to be seen and heard, and let these people know that we won’t quit.”

A total of 173 registered McHenry Township voters came to the meeting, and 169 voted in favor of allocating the funding. No one voted against the matter.

Illinois law allows voters to direct the supervisor to allocate funding specifically to pay an agency – either for-profit or nonprofit – to provide services for seniors.

The township budgeted $2.1 million in its town fund for the fiscal 2020 budget, which included $303,343 for the senior bus program. Those costs include salaries, contractual services and personnel costs, according to township documents.

The actual cost to run the service last year was $237,976, according to township documents. Those costs were offset by revenue of $59,242. Revenue includes grants, vouchers and rider fees, according to township documents.

Trustees at a special meeting earlier this month voted, 3-2, in favor of a request to prepare an amended fiscal 2020 budget without senior bus program funding after Nov. 30, which is why residents requested reserve funding to keep the program going.

The township has $1.5 million in reserves, according to the resolution voted on at Friday’s special meeting.

Residents have been protesting the decision to cut the service since the June vote, but Trustees Bob Anderson, Steve Verr and Mike Rakestraw have remained steadfast in the decision to eliminate the program.

Resident Beverly Meuch said all the talking seemed to fall on deaf ears and instead broke into song, offering a rendition of “We Shall Overcome” during the public comment portion of the meeting. She was met with applause.

Some urged voters in attendance to continue the fight.

“Keep applying that pressure,” McHenry resident Jamie Rous said. “This isn’t the end of the war. It’s just one battle to keep our services in McHenry Township.”

An advisory referendum that asks whether the township should continue to maintain and fund the service will appear on the March primary ballot.

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