Elizabethtown A request for new busses brought serious discussion about the future of the Essex County bussing program July 16.
During the finance, tax reduction and mandate relief committee meeting, County Manager Daniel Palmer requested a resolution to purchase five new busses for the Department of Transportation, ORDA and the village of Lake Placid.
Two of the busses, which would have 90 percent of the costs covered through federal and state grants, would go to the county, while two would go to ORDA, who will pay $61,000 of the estimated $170,000 local share. The final bus would go to Lake Placid.
In requesting the funding, which is not allotted in the 2012 county budget, Palmer said that it could be seen as a referendum on the program.
“In some sense, if we do not support this we are probably looking at a shutdown of the bus program,” Palmer said. “They are under very strict DOT requirements. If you do not keep up with the replacement of these busses the DOT will tell us that we cannot run them. This is the resolution to show that you are willing to pay the local share.”
Board chairman Randy Douglas said that while he believes the transportation department and its director, Nancy Dougal, had worked hard to remain cost effective, the county should look at ways to cut the costs down.
“Is there a way that we can cut back on this and maybe only do two vans?” Douglas asked. “$89,000 scares me.”
Palmer said that he felt the busses were needed as they were used by many members of the community, including several county employees.
“I think that it has meant a lot to a lot of people,” Palmer said. “There was a lot of discussion that if it started to cost the county money, then we should back out of it. There are a lot of county employees that rely on those busses.”