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Board hears new plan for elderly transport service

Lincoln County supervisors Monday heard a revised proposal thatwould provide transportation for the county’s elderly at a veryminimal cost – at least in service’s first year.

Supervisors tabled the matter until the next meeting so theycould evaluate its potential impact on the budget and determine ifit would be cost effective.

David Caulfield, a representative of Southwest MississippiPlanning and Development District, said the agency had received agrant since he first pitched the proposal in December, and he couldnow offer free elderly transportation services until the grantexpires Aug. 31.

The program would allow the elderly to call a central telephonenumber and arrange for transportation anywhere they needed to go,Caulfield said. The most common destinations requested, he said,are doctors’ offices, grocery stores, the hospital, the courthouseand the Department of Human Services.

“We have received a grant and purchased buses with the intent ofthose buses being used in counties for elderly transportation,”Caulfield said.

Previously, supervisors were asked to make a local match for thepurchase of the 17-passenger buses. The buses are also equipped totransport the handicapped.

Additionally, Caulfield said, the grant funds were sufficient toalso cover the driver’s salary and the bus’ operational costs,insurance and licensing until it expires.

However, after Aug. 31, the county would have to begin fundingthe salary and operational costs, Caulfield said. The agency wouldcontinue to insure the bus and ensure its licensing remainedup-to-date.

Caulfield supplied supervisors with a rough estimate on thosecosts, based on similar programs in other counties. Following theexpiration of the grant, the program would cost the countyapproximately $32,000 annually.

“Typically, there is no cost to the rider,” he said. “I do knowother counties are considering a small fee to offset the cost ofoperating the bus.”

Chancery Clerk and board secretary Tillmon Bishop urgedsupervisors to consider the long-term effects of the program afterthe grant expires.

“Even though it would be a minuscule amount this year, onceyou’re in it you’re in it,” he said.

County Administrator David Fields said a fee of $4 at an averageof 750 riders per month would generate $16,000, or approximately 50percent of the operational costs.

District One Supervisor the Rev. Jerry Wilson said the cost ofthe program, or offsetting that cost, should not be a factor in thediscussion.

“There shouldn’t be a price tag on something that’s going tohelp people in general,” he said. “I think this is a great idea andwill be a help to the citizens who need it the most.”

However, Wilson also suggested that since the bus routes wouldalso be run in the city, the city should be asked if it would sharethe cost.

In other matters, Bishop said, an archeological study ofLinBrook Business Park was complete. The study found no Indianmounds or other artifacts.

“They can begin scratching dirt” and laying the infrastructurenow, he said.

Bishop also received authorization to pay the $14,800 bill forthe study out of the LinBrook Alliance fund. LinBrook Business Parkis a joint project of the county, city and Chamber of Commerce.