Gas prices hit senior transportation budget

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High gasoline prices are putting a pinch on the Groveport-Madison Township Senior Transportation program.

Background

The program is designed for senior residents of the village of Groveport and unincorporated areas of Madison Township and assists seniors with transportation, including trips to the doctor, grocery store, mall, etc.

The program receives $20,343 per year from the Franklin County Senior Options and $14,000 per year to pay for fuel from Madison Township.

However, the program is primarily funded by the village of Groveport. According to interim Village Administrator Ken Salak, Groveport has paid $168,730 in 2006, $209,125 in 2007, and, so far in 2008, $99,047 into the program. The village’s costs include staffing, vehicle purchase, and a vehicle maintenance.

According to Groveport Community Affairs Director Linda Haley, there are currently 277 (the number fluctuates) total participants in the program with 173, or 62 percent, from the village of Groveport and 104, or 38 percent, from Madison Township. Out of the Madison Township participants, she noted 57 are "active participants."

The program uses six vehicles.


Fuel pinch

With ever rising fuel costs looming, Haley reported that it is estimated an "additional $8,000 would be needed to cover fuel costs for the remainder of 2008."

Haley also noted that the rising fuel costs make it difficult to project the program’s budget needs through the remainder of the year.

Speaking at Groveport Village Council’s June 23 meeting, Madison Township Administrator Judy Edwards stated the township has already spent $7,713 for fuel for the program in 2008, leaving $6,286 available for the rest of the year.

"We need to look at the fuel consumption…We want to maintain the priority trips, such as doctor’s office visits," said Edwards. "We’re not thinking of withdrawing from the program. We want to work with the village…Our funding capabilities are less than Groveport’s."

Noting the funding and usage differences between the village and township, Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert said the village government’s main concern is providing service to Groveport residents adding, "If they (the township) can’t afford to contribute, it may be time to look at revamping the program."

Madison Township trustee Jim Hummel assured council that the township backs the program.

"We’ll do what we can to support the program," said Hummel. "We’re faced with funding restraints, but we’ll do what we can do."

Edwards pointed out that much of the program has been operated informally between the town and township and she presented a proposed memorandum of understanding putting the township’s $14,000 fuel commitment for 2008 in writing.

Officials from both governments indicated they will continue discussions to keep the program operating in 2008 and look to this fall’s budget processes to find ways to fund and operate the program in 2009.

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