SAC to request increase in town funding
The Senior Advisory Committee will ask the town for an additional $6,000 to fund its programs in the fiscal year beginning July 1, largely for additional staff time and an on-island transportation service.
The proposed fiscal 2019/20 budget the committee unanimously adopted at its Jan. 15 meeting totals $23,100, a 35 percent increase from the $17,100 appropriated for the current year, which ends June 30.
The budget for fiscal year 2017/18 was $16,200.
The new year’s budget would add four hours weekly to Senior Coordinator Gloria Redlich's salary line, Co-Chair Sandra Kelly said, increasing the position from 10 to 14 hours per week. The budget would also add town funds to continue the SAC's pilot transportation service, set to launch on Jan. 28 using state grant money.
The “Senior Ride Service” transportation program is “established and ready to go,” Kelly said at the meeting. Customers would register with the Senior Coordinator in advance and pay a small fee to island taxis for each ride, with the taxi owners billing the town monthly for the difference between the fee and the full fare set by ordinance.
For the trial period, the town will pay taxi owners from a small grant received from the R.I. Division of Elderly Affairs. The state money must be spent before June 30, and the service would need new funding to continue beyond that date.
The SAC has previously offered free rides to seniors using the Recreation Department van, both on and off the island, with low ridership. Nevertheless, “I think that it's worthy of continuing,” Redlich told the committee members.
Other priorities in the SAC's budget proposal include continuing subsidies for exercise classes and possibly funding members' travel to a Maine island town that has implemented programs addressing similar issues of caregiving, housing and senior services.
Registration required for rides
According to an announcement by Redlich, two on-island taxi owners have agreed to work with the SAC to establish the Senior Ride Service (SRS), beginning Sunday, Jan. 28. The cost is $3 per traveler.
Participating taxis will be available for the discounted rides during the day and early evenings (except Sunday evenings), but not at ferry arrival and departure times.
Customers must pre-register before booking rides with the service. Contact Senior Coordinator Gloria Redlich at email@example.com or (401) 486-9278 to register or for more information about the Senior Ride Service, other SAC-sponsored programs and services available to the island's senior citizens.