During the Tuesday BOCS yesterday, many citizens came forward during Citizens Time to urge the supervisors to restore  a transportation system for the seniors of Prince William County.  Last July 1 the county ended a bus program that  transported  senior citizens between Woodbridge and Manassas senior citizen centers, to doctors and hospitals , and to  other spots around town.  Economic downturn and shortage of revenue was given as the reason.

 The senior centers provide a hot lunch and companionship for those who participate.  Many seniors go to the centers to see friends, do activities and to be with people their own age.  Replacement vouchers have been allocated for those seniors who don’t drive and who make less than $30,000 a year.  Unfortunately, the vouchers only cover about 6 outings.  According to News and Messenger:

As county revenue continues to decline, the county’s staff slashed more than $150,000 from its $254,116 senior center and adult day care transportation budget. The move forced officials to eliminate four positions, as well as sell a small fleet of 15-passenger vans used to transport seniors.

With the remaining funds, the county created a pilot voucher system that allows seniors to use taxi cabs or local transit buses to do routine tasks, such as go to the doctor, get prescriptions filled or go grocery shopping.

The board allocated $30,000 in additional funding to the new program, for a total of $130,000. Officials limited voucher recipients to those over age 55 who cannot drive, and to those who make less than $30,000 per year, or couples that make less than $40,000 annually.

The vouchers, ranging in value from $1 to $5, are few, many said. And once they are gone, there is no way for them to get to the senior center.

 

This move seems rather tough after the supervisors totally eliminated the Senior Day Care Center on the western end of the county.  Are the supervisors targetting the most vulnerable of our citizens because they think they will make the least amount of racket?   Manassas Senior Center Manager Kathy Lee-Meredith stated:

 

158 people used the county’s senior bus service last year, at a cost of $968 a person. It made more than 300 trips to local doctor’s offices and hospitals.

Between July and October, 50 people used the new voucher system—all of them age 55 or older and unable to drive—at a cost of $8,580.

She further indicated that many seniors have had to learn to use (and pay for) the commerical cab system as well as the local public bus.  What she is leaving out is the local cab system is very expensive and the bus service is not convenient to many seniors nor does it accommodate those with physical impairments. 

The county needs to come up with a better plan.  If all else fails, they need to find a charity to do matching funds with citizen donations.  This situation cannot continue.  Mrs. Cathy Marshall, wife of Delegate Bob Marshall,  has been a leader on this front.  She advocates doing away with the $100,000 citizens’ survey form.  That sounds like a plan.  Other senior advocates are planning a protest:

From News and Messenger

Woodbridge residents Shirley Van Ess, left, Doris Bodwin and Greg Reynolds plan to board or follow the bus behind them, owned and driven by Rick Clark, to protest the Board of County Supervisors’ elimination of their affordable bus service.

Maybe the BOCS have bitten off a little more than they can chew with this one.  This situation looks like an uprising of gray panthers.  More power to them!  

What can ordinary citizens do to help the seniors?  Supervisor Frank Principi is spearheading an effort to replace this service.  How many other supervisors have signed on with him to rescue the senior citizens who don’t drive or might not have the means to continue their activities?

Update in Washington Post Sunday, Nov. 29.

30 Thoughts to “Seniors put on the Back Burner–Again”

  1. Witness Too

    In times like these, the community needs to pull together. There are other ways to support our seniors, perhaps through religious organizations, or non-profits.

    We committed more than $11 million dollars to an anti-immigrant campaign strategy for Corey Stewart. Now we have to live with the consequences. I don’t think there is any way to get that money back, right? Does anyone know? Most of it was spent on training and then un-training the police officers and the myriad FOIA requests from people trying to bring down Chief Deane. The money is gone, am I right? If it’s not gone, someone explain what is left.

  2. How much would it cost to fully reinstate the senior bus transportation?

    That is the bottom line.

    Wally Covington suggested using sped bussing for some of this transportation. That’s a starting point.

  3. Carol Rosier

    We could get rid of some of the top layer of staff to pay for the service. Translate all the hours they have spent explaining why they don’t want to do transportation into dollars and you have more than enough money.

  4. Witness Too

    Sped meaning “special education?”

  5. Witness Too

    Anyway, thanks for bringing this up for discussion. I feel like I should do something to help but don’t know what to do.

  6. It’s pork, cut it all.

    Don’t spend my tax money on the illegals, elderly or the school children for that matter. It’s my money, my wife and I work hard and are taxed enough already.

  7. Yes, sped = special education.

    I feel like I should do something also and I don’t know what to do. It is dead wrong that seniors have to rake and scrape for every scrap thrown to them in this county.

  8. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    @Moon-howler
    This County? You’re worried about this County? HAHAHAHA….Wait ’till Obama-Care gets hold seniors! 100s of billions in Medicare cuts. Seniors don’t know what problems are yet….it’s in the works, though!

  9. And Cut it all, who got you to adulthood? Did you attend public school?

    No one has mentioned ‘illegals’ getting to ride the bus to the senior center. However, some seniors have to choose between their medicine and eating. Do you begrudge them a hot meal? If yes, shame on you.

  10. Slowpoke, I am not really worried about Obama care and the seniors. Pretty soon all the baby boomers are going to take over and you youngsters will rue the day. [evil grin]

  11. Elena

    cutitall,
    In a civilized democratic society I don’t believe it is moral to simply abandon the most vulnerable people in our communities. You know, one day YOU may find yourself in a position such as these seniors, I’ll bet you feel a little differently.

  12. Elena

    I just LOVE Greg Reynolds, what a wonderful caring person.

  13. Well, after all, it’s cutitall’s wife we’re talking about here….I guess. (“Troll”?)

    How would SPED buses be used?

  14. The sped buses have lifts on them for handicapped seniors. Some of the buses aren’t in use while the students are in school. They could be used to transport seniors. It isn’t perfect but it beats the seniors not having a ride.

    Elena, you are certainly right about Greg and Jean Reynolds. Both are wonderful caring people.

  15. RE: Cut it all– Anyone who would make a statement like that probably has other problems in their life. It is Thanksgiving. Cutitall, I hope you find peace over the holidays. I know times are bad for some people. If you know of a family that has no thanksgiving dinner please email me and I will put you in touch with a restaurant that is serving dinner to those who might go hungry.

    Moon.howler07@yahoo.com

  16. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    Moon-howler :
    Slowpoke, I am not really worried about Obama care and the seniors. Pretty soon all the baby boomers are going to take over and you youngsters will rue the day. [evil grin]

    You seem to think that once y’all retire, and can no longer provide tax income into the Treasury, but instead are drawing Social Security out of the fund the feds pissed away years ago, that you won’t get a nice healthy dose of “end of life” counseling! I’m not so sure the People’s Republic of Obamastan will be such a welcoming place for those who aren’t helping fill Obama’s coffers.

  17. Seniors are taxed, they just don’t pay social security. In fact, they are taxed on lots and lots of things like any income earned, 401ks, capital gains, sales tax, property tax, pension income. I expect to continue to be ripped off well into the golden years. I think you pay income tax on ss also. There is just no escaping it.

    Medicare also costs almost as much as group health care. This is before Obama gets to sprinkle fairy dust on it. I don’t know what becomes of those who don’t have the above. I think some are eligible for some sort of supplemental poor folks tax on top of ss.

    There will be a lot of us boomers though. The years are 1946-1964. Be afraid. I think the birth rates were up to over 4 million a year. It is going to be a huge voting block. The stupid politicians haven’t figured it out yet. You never hear about the boomer demographic. I think it will be shock and awe.

  18. Chris

    The seniors that have lived her for many years and have paid Real Estate taxes. Those RE taxes help pay for our schools. Now, let’s say a senior has lived here thirty or forty years, and haven’t had a child in the public school system for over 20 years. A large portion of their tax dollar is going to a service they do NOT use. So, why begrudge the county seniors of a bus ride? I’m not saying taxpayers complain about educating our kids, because we do want an educated society. Don’t people want our seniors to have decent quality of life in the “golden years”.

    By depriving these seniors of a bus ride to the seniors centers is depriving them of getting out and being active as they can be while sharing friendship with others of their own age group. Some of these seniors will be sitting at home, not getting the nutrishment they once were, and they will become depressed, withdrawn and tend to give up on life. This will inturn cause other illnesses and lack of exercising(just getting out and about is exercise to some seniors) will result in some of these seniors then needing in-home care or worse yet have to go to a nursing home. Guess what people, your tax dollars do help fund nursing homes. It’s penny wise and pound foolish not to spend the money on the bus. We will have some of these seniors requiring more services and services that are far more costly than the bus. This really is something to seriously think about.

    I spoke out last year when they wanted and DID close the Manassas Senior Day Care program in Manassas only. I told the board and the citizens of the eastern end of the county to be prepared, that they would be next. Sure enough they were next and the seniors of the western end of the county got hit twice. They first lost the day care program and then next the bus service. At this point, I guess we should all be thinking what will they cut next from the seniors. Will it be one or both of the Senior Centers come next year when we’ll be looking at what to cut from the budget for 2011.

  19. I hope the Marshalls will start up a special fund for this much needed service. It appears that many of the supervisors left their faith at the door.

    What does the City do about their seniors?

    Also, I have heard nothing about the Civil War $$$ from the county. Are they sneaking around this one? If the BOCS ponies up $200k for the 150th and lets the seniors walk, there are going to be some mighty pissed off people.

    Speaking of, has anyone else heard the rumor that the City has another $100k slotted for the Civil War group? A little bird told me they read that somewhere. I sure hope that isn’t true.

  20. Lafayette

    Moon, great question regarding the City. The Senior Centers are a shared service with the two cities. A shared service being a service they paid the county for. I’m not sure if either city addressed the issue or did they just accept the hand they were dealt from the BoS.

  21. Are they providing rides to the senior center? Isn’t the senior center in the City of Manassas over in Old Town? Street named after a Civil War general?

    Does anyone know about the old discontinued bus routes?

  22. clueless

    @Moon-howler
    I do not think the private reenactor group has actually asked the County for the $250,000 yet. I have been watching the meetings on TV.

  23. Clueless, When are they going to do the asking?

  24. clueless

    @Moon-howler
    Moon-howler, I checked the VCEI web site and it states a December 8th presentation to the County Supervisors. I would guess that they will ask then. Here is the link.

    http://www.virginiacivilwarevents.org/events/viewevent.aspx?id=4513

  25. Thanks Clueless. It appears clueless isn’t so clueless.

    We shall see what they have to say. In better times I would say go for it. However when seniors have lost day care and transportation services, it is hard to give the green light to something that just might not pan out. It would be mighty hard to justify this expense when we have all been told in tough times we tighten our belts.

  26. Chris

    The excuse will be the senior day care and transportation are ongoing expenses, and the Anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas is a one time deal. Well, that’s not neccessarily true because they’ll want to the mark the Anniversary of the Second Battle of Manassas.

  27. clueless

    @Moon-howler
    well it keeps getting worse. According to the Washington Post, they are looking to raise $3.9 million for the festivities. I could not find the article on line. It was in the Community edition on Thanksgiving. They wants $250,000 per year from the County.

  28. PWC taxpayer

    Arrgghhhh! What part of ongoing welfare operating subsidy (transportation) versus a one-time investment — in return for recurrring short and long long term economic benefits that will include the opportunity to reprogram already committed public historical asset funding requirements – perhaps even to your senior welfare transportation subsidy – do you not understand? Gime, gime , gime. And Moon – making up crazy talk numbers like that is just not right.

    I am not against subsidizing senior citizens to/from the centers. My 87 yr old mother does not use it, but thats ok. I did not know we also paid for visits to the doctor – maybe I should look into that. The real issue here is whether the BOCS, acting as a responsible agent for the entire county, should prioritize its limited funding and invest in a public-private partnership with a 501c3 that offers to generate more economic activity (tax revenues), business development and even minimize County funding of existing historical assets – and do so without relaince on the real estate tax — or otherwise continue to provide operating subsidies that are nice in good times but not entitlements in bad times. Never mind, I already know you want your piece of the pie preserved regardless of all the other expenses/issues the County faces. Picking on the VCWE is opportunistic to make your point — do we really need to celebrate this 150 year Civil War stuff in a big way – when I cannot get to the center on the public dole? The difference is that the VCWE is offering to enlarge the pie and provide new opportunities to reduce other current PWC funding requirements, requirements that may allow for your subsidy.

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