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Seniors left scrambling after busing cuts
Pickerington senior citizens have been left scrambling to find transportation after their shuttle bus service was cut at the beginning of this month.
Pickerington terminated a contract with the Fairfield County Board of Mental Retardation for the service, which transported the elderly to doctor appointments, grocery stores and other errands, said Marge Sherrod of the Pickerington Senior Center. Sherrod was in charge of scheduling the busing for seniors.
Though she said she hoped the city would reconsider, two Pickerington council members visited her directly to break the news. She said they told her that because voters rejected the proposed income tax increase on last November's ballot, the city needed to make cuts.
Sherrod said she had hoped that another community group would support the service, but that hope has faded.
She says she must now break the news to the 494 seniors who depended on the shuttle.
"Those people want to know what happens to them," Sherrod said. "I tell them, 'I don't have an alternative.' I can't find anyone to step up and fill the gap."
Pickerington officials say the city had no choice.
"The decision to eliminate the funding for this program was totally due to our tight budget situation," City Manager Tim Hansley said.
Per the terms of the contract, the city had been funding the service for just under $25,000 each year and Fairfield MRDD held title to the 2003 Chevrolet transit bus. The shuttle will still operate to transport individuals receiving services through MRDD for both vocational and habilitation services.
Seniors paid $7.50 per trip within the city limits and $15 or $30 (depending on the distance) for errands outside Pickerington.
"Because we can only transport those who are eligible for our services, we cannot continue to serve the senior citizens in the Pickerington and Violet Township areas who had been covered through the city's contribution," Fairfield MRDD Superintendent John Pekar said.
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