A non-profit agency and the Indiana Department of Transportation are poised to bring a public transit system to Clay County, but they're just spinning their wheels until they get the approval of the board of commissioners.
Jon Bonomo, transportation manager for C.A.R.S.-- Child Adult Resource Services, the agency that would run the small-scale transit system-- said the board must send a letter of interest to the state by June 1. The initiative would be funded primarily through state and federal grants, supplemented by advertising revenue and contributions from local government.
Board of Commissioners President Charlie Brown said Wednesday he would work with Auditor Joe Dierdorf on drafting the letter of interest, but he admitted the funding concerns him.
"I will support this," Brown said. "It's a good idea. But like all good ideas, you need to figure out the funding."
Bonomo predicted Clay County's bill for 2007, the inaugural year for the program, would run $4,000 to $5,000. The City of Brazil will be asked for $1,000 to $2,000.
"I'm very optimistic," Bonomo said. "I think they'll be very receptive that that's all the county will have to come up with."
James English, program manager for the INDOT rural transit program, said the scale of the program can be adjusted according to the amount local governments are able to contribute.
"They will put together the budget," English said. "Once they do that, we'll see what kind of program they want to put together."
Bonomo said the organization singled out Clay County because of a strong demand for transportation among the elderly and disabled, especially to and from doctor or hospital visits.
The county's lean economy also played a role in its selection. A C.A.R.S. study conducted in 2002 reported 83 percent of people surveyed knew of someone with transportation problems. Of those, 46 percent were unable to get around because of the expense involved.
Under the proposed plan, two C.A.R.S. passenger vans-- accounted for in a start-up grant-- would transport passengers to and from medical appointments and run a series of fixed routes to connect passengers to shopping centers and other points of interest.