Board rejects bus service plan for elderly

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors resolved two lingeringtopics that have been under debate for nearly a month Monday whenthey decided not to participate in an elderly transportationprogram and approved a bid to install security cameras in thecourthouse.

District One Supervisor the Rev. Jerry Wilson’s motion to enteran agreement with Southwest Mississippi Planning and DevelopmentDistrict to provide transportation to the elderly died for lack ofa second.

“It’s about helping people,” he said forcibly. “We’re going toget old, too, and we’ll need help some day. Who’s going to help us?I’m for this and you should be, too.”

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A visibly upset Wilson left the boardroom for a few minutesfollowing the failed action and returned much calmer.

The board had debated the program since early February whenDavid Caulfield, a SWMPDD representative, informed the board theagency had received a grant to provide elderly transportation.

The grant allowed the agency to purchase several 17-passengerhandicap-accessible buses and cover the costs of their operationsuntil August. At that time, Caulfield said, the county would haveto begin paying the salary and benefits of the driver and theoperational costs, such as fuel. Those expenses were estimated at$32,000 annually.

Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop pointed out the county would alsohave to look at purchasing a new bus at some point down theroad.

“There are a lot of long-term things we need to consider,” hesaid during Monday’s discussion.

Some counties provide the service to their residents for freewhile others charge a minimal fee to make the programself-sustaining, Caulfield said.

“This service will not be free. There will be a fee,” DistrictThree Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson said.

He said one person he talked to about the program in Pike Countyinformed him their aunt could ride for free, but for anyone toaccompany the aunt costs $20. Since the aunt could not travel byherself, each trip cost them $20.

“You can give someone you know $20 and they’ll take you whereyou need to go,” Williamson said.

The supervisor said he received 15 calls about the program andonly one was in favor of the county adopting the plan.

“I’ve had two calls and both of them were against it,” DistrictFour Supervisor Doug Moak agreed. “I’m not sure if we’re ready tomove into something like this.”

District Two Supervisor Bobby Watts said all his calls wereopposed and Board President Gary Walker said he had been notifiedby two in favor of the program, but many more against.

“I want to take a look at it again at budget time if the bus isstill available,” Walker said. “The middle of a budget year is nota good time to be trying to add programs.”

In other matters, the board did agree, however, to installapproximately 21 security cameras to monitor the LincolnCounty-Brookhaven Government Complex at a cost of $24,789.

The surveillance system will be funded through a federalDepartment of Homeland Security grant. The interior and exteriorcameras will monitor the complex’s open areas, hallways, outsidedoors and other general use areas.

Magnetic door locks to limit access to the judge’s chambers arealso included in the grant.

Also Monday, the board raised the mileage reimbursement rate forcounty employees using private vehicles to conduct their countybusiness.

The state raised its rate from 44.5 cents per mile to 48.5earlier this month and notified counties they could do the same.However, a decision whether to increase the amount was left to thediscretion of the supervisors.

Lincoln County was reimbursing its employees at a 40.5 cents permile rate. Supervisors agreed to match the amount of the stateraise and increase the county rate to 44.5 cents per mile.

Supervisors also reinstated Travis Tadlock as the Lincoln Countyrepresentative of the Pearl River Basin Development District boardof directors. Tadlock’s new term will expire Jan. 25, 2013.