by CYNTHIA KMETT
Last year 633 folks were denied a ride on Troy Medi-Go bus. The service is a non-profit founded in 1980 that works in conjunction with SMART to provide bus service to seniors and those with disabilities, getting them to appointments in the community.
The shortage of available service was brought to City Council’s attention during the spring budget study session. Council added $50,000 to its share of the cost of funding Medi-Go, bringing it to $180,000 in the city budget for the coming year to fund another bus, bringing the bus total to six.
Medi-Go is currently providing about 20,000 rides a year to those in need of transportation, especially to doctor’s appointments. Riders pay $2 for the service. When city staff examined the system, Department of Public Works Director Kurt Bovensiep explained, they found some issues with how long repairs often took at the SMART garage, and how there were some personnel problems with the part-time staff.
There were two options on the table; Keep the old system which would add two technicians to the city Fleet for repairs, or roll out a new system as part of the DPW. After discussing the issue with Medi-Go Director Garry Good and SMART’s Oakland County Ombudsperson Madonna Van Fossen, who also is on the Medi-Go Board, it was recommended to council that handing over Medi-Go to the city would be the best way to offer Troy residents transportation services.
Bovensiep reminded council that the population isn’t getting any younger. So the idea was to dissolve the Medi-Go board and have a new gang as part of the DPW with an operations manager, a full-time coordinator/scheduler, a part-time scheduler, part-time drivers, and sub drivers. And, they would add one technician to the fleet who could repair buses as needed and work on all of Troy’s many other vehicles – plus the dozens of vehicles the city repairs for other municipalities.
This plan would cost an extra $15,000 in the budget.
One thing Bovensiep also pointed out was that the current Medi-Go actually served as a quasi-senior citizens committee, letting the administration know what seniors wanted and things they weren’t happy about.
Number one: they want a sign saying “Senior Center” replaced at the north entrance. He said staff recommended forming a new Senior Advisory Board. Troy had one from 1974 until it was dissolved in 2009, probably when many senior programs were slashed due to the recession.
SMART will continue to lease the buses as it does the Trolleys at no cost to the city. The city pays for fuel, maintenance, repairs, and the drivers.
There was a bit of a to-do over nominations to the city’s boards and committees last week. When Councilman Dave Henderson nominated a man who was already a board member and Councilwoman Edna Abrahim had noted there was someone else who wanted to be considered, and she hadn’t yet reached either one of them, she seemed quite surprised. That’s probably because it’s been some time since another councilmember has nominated someone to a board. That list, except for the mayor’s nominees, has always come from the mayor pro tem, and this year that’s Abrahim.
It wasn’t always that way. For decades, volunteers lined up to try to grab a seat on a board or commission. And then council members voted on two or three of them, depending on the number of vacancies. But, citizens willing to volunteer seem to have slowed to a trickle and of late, no councilmember had made a nomination. Truth be told, old board members didn’t always win reappointment, especially if they started to miss too many meetings. If you’d be interested in serving, check out the city’s website at troymi.gov for an application.
In other business, council extended the sign ordinance for another 45 days while they make sure any new regulations won’t cause signs around the city to become non-conforming. However, there are several new businesses that would like signs up when they open very soon, and Mayor Dane Slater suggested they talk to staff about their concerns.