Proposed by Mayor Paul Jones, the service would begin in January and shuttle elderly residents to and from designated county sights, Jones said Friday. The service would benefit residents of Ravenna and Charlestown Township, with which the city already maintains emergency medical service, he said.
This week, Council's safety committee unanimously approved the proposal, which was not prepared in time for the finance committee's consideration _ a review that would require a special meeting, Jones said.
Since the defeat of a 1.29-mill cemetery levy Nov. 4, department heads have been pressed by a sense of fiscal urgency, looking to trim their budgets and define ways to generate revenue. In October, Jones said the levy's failure might mean cuts to the city's police and fire protection services.
"As a result of the defeat of our cemetery levy this fall, we desperately must pump more money into the city's general fund and we must now do more with less," he said. "We have (other) ideas for tightening our belts, but I'm confident we can infuse the transport service revenues into the general fund in 1998 and avoid layoffs in the police and fire departments."
Police and fire services consume about 70 percent of the general fund.
Issue 5 would have generated nearly $200,000 in each of five years for maintenance and improvements to Maple Grove Cemetery on Chestnut Street.
The transport service could gross some $427,500 annually, an estimate assuming three shuttles in each of 300 days, said Jones, who called the need for such service "tremendous." The service would operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at least 5 days per week and would carry elderly residents to and from Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna, the Portage County Kidney Center in Kent and nursing homes throughout the county.
In addition, the city would investigate shuttling residents to and from the Hattie Larlham Foundation in Mantua, Jones said.
While private companies furnish the service from $500 to $700 per run, the city would charge $475, a fee that would be reimbursed through Medicaid, Jones said.
The program's overhead would be minimal, he said. The city has an ambulance not presently in use, advanced and basic life-support service and the necessary manpower and insurance, he said. In addition, the program would originate from the fire station and the collection service for reimbursements is already in place.
"We have all the amenities to succeed and make money in our surrounding market," Jones said. "I see our new transport service as another component to the overall scheme of things. It will greatly benefit our residents in need and provides us a market for the profits we need to save our future budget."