Tuesday, June 18, 2013
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Board mulls Logan County's public transportation over PCOM officer requirement

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[June 18, 2013]  During the Logan County Board meeting as a board of whole on Thursday, the prominent topic was the progress made by Logan Mason Public Transportation and the grant that Logan County could receive for Community Action to further improve the program.

Jacob Sexton, the executive director of Community Action, spoke to the board as to the early popularity the transportation program has been experiencing. Predominantly, riders have been senior citizens, those who live in group homes and the developmentally disabled. Riders arrange in advance for transportation, with standing appointments preferred.

Sexton reiterated that the program is not even a year old, and he believes it has already been a great asset to the county.

"Our position is such that we are creating economic development, in the sense that we are providing jobs for the drivers that work and live within Logan County; we are providing self-sufficiency for those that we transport for medical purposes; we are promoting job growth to the businesses that we take our clients to," said Sexton.

Gene Rohlfs asked Sexton how large the Community Action budget would be for the program next year.

Sexton said the transportation program alone will operate on a budget of $500,000.

Rohlfs asked Sexton how much revenue from fares was brought in by the program.

Sexton reiterated that this is a not-for-profit program and said that fares so far have brought in $9,000. Sexton said the money generated by fares is used to partially offset expenses of the program.

Rohlfs said that such a program is set up to be a financial loss, calling it a "government giveaway program."

Sexton replied that from Community Action's perspective, the program is stimulating growth within the communities, and the amount of money that goes into sales taxes that are being spent and work that is done by the people who are being transported is worth the expense.

Sexton also said that central Illinois and other rural areas are seeing a large increase in popularity of public transportation.

Rohlfs said that is his reason for concern, and if more rural areas gain this type of not-for-profit transportation, the cost will become too high for any governing body.

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Terry Carlton said he feels it is important for such a program to exist in order for members of the community who are limited by a lack of transportation to get where they need to be to improve their own lives, such as furthering their education. Carlton emphasized the importance of working with colleges in the near future, so younger people can receive an education locally, earn better jobs and bring better businesses to the community.

Sexton said that Community Action is working on reaching out to local colleges to potentially create contracts for transportation in the future.

Chuck Ruben said that while he does agree that the program will continue to be an asset, there are still questions that need to be answered concerning the legislation that runs the program before a definitive vote can be made by the board. Multiple board members agreed with Ruben's reasoning.

A motion was unanimously passed by the board to refer the discussion back to committee next month.

One of the unknowns is that of the new position that will have to be created to oversee the finances of the program.

While the program is running in a two counties, Logan County will specifically act as the recipient of the grant that funds the transportation program. As a result, Logan County will have to provide the employee who will spend a majority of their time monitoring the process of expenditures. The position is referred to as the PCOM officer, for project compliance and oversight management.

Angie Jenkins, also of Community Action, said they did not even know such a position would need to be created until they were contacted by the county board.



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