Council on Aging seeks transportation funding

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By Jenny Hartley

County Council gave the green light to spend $53,064 that would match a grant for transportation services for senior citizens and the disabled.

Sally Sherrin, director of the Lancaster County Council on Aging, told council Monday night that there are new grant funds available to transport seniors and the disabled and to take other people to work.

The local Council on Aging needs to apply for the $53,064 S.C. Department of Transportation grant, which would require a dollar-for-dollar match from Lancaster County. Sherrin said she needed the commitment from the county before applying for the grant.

With the money, the Council on Aging could take 20 people to work and transport another 40 seniors and disabled residents to medical appointments for a year. The grant would cover transportation costs, such as fuel, personnel to drive vans and administrative costs.

The Council on Aging won't need the county funds until the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2008.

The grant could become available again, but money for it will diminish over time, Sherrin said.

Councilman Jack Estridge said he hated to sound negative, but asked what would happen to the people who used the service and depended on it for medical transport or going to work if the funding ran out.

"That is a pitfall of the grant," Sherrin said.

The local United Way is doing a study on transportation issues and may make transportation funds available in the future. The Council on Aging also plans on applying for local grant funding for transportation.

Councilman Bryan Vaughn said he supported the idea, but he encouraged the Council on Aging to invest in vehicles, which would likely last longer than the grant funds.

County Administrator Steve Willis suggested that $1 be added to the $15 road fee on residents' tax bills to help pay for these transportation costs.

Councilman Fred Thomas said if a person used the service to get to work for a year, he or she may become self-sufficient during that time and be able to buy a car.

Council voted 6-1 to approve the match during the next budget year. Estridge voted against it.

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