SH Senior Center asks county for help with ODOT shortfall

Senior Center Director Jean McKinney asked the Linn County Board of Commissioners for help last week in covering a shortfall of $10,000 in a $20,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

In spring 2000, McKinney applied for small city and rural grant funds from ODOT to help fund Linn Shuttle. The Senior Center’s bus service received an extra allotment from the state’s Special Transit Fund. Linn Shuttle started an early morning and a late afternoon route on the big shuttle between Sweet Home and Albany. It also added a Brownsville, Shedd, Tangent and Albany route.

Last year, McKinney said, she was assured Linn Shuttle would receive $20,000 for this year and applied on July 14, 2000.

An appointment to review the grant application was put off at least six times, McKinney said, and the Senior Center still has none of the funding.

In February or March, the Senior Center was told that the Brownsville route was not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Linn Shuttle would not receive the full funding.

“I have been trying to make compliance as fast as I could,” McKinney said. “When they tell us to do it, we do it. By then, I’d been on a budget expecting $20,000.”

Linn Shuttle put a lift-equipped bus on the Brownsville route in April, McKinney said. “That’s not particularly important (in reference to funding). That route could have been dropped, and we could still have been funded. The main shuttle carrying the most passengers the most miles has been compliant all along.”

McKinney went, last week, to the commissioners for help.

Linn Shuttle is under contract with Linn County, McKinney said, and “I started the routes in good faith.”

The loss of dollars from ODOT’s small city and rural funds is the second shortfall that Linn Shuttle faces this year, McKinney said. Linn Shuttle received $140,000 from Special Transportation Funds (STF) last year. She reduced her request by $5,000, this year, to $135,000; but that funding was cut to $121,000.

“This makes another gap,” McKinney said. “I figure my budget really, really tight.”

The Board of Commissioners asked McKinney to provide all of the documentation related to the small city and rural grant.

“Like they said, we’re partners in this, and they would see what they could do to help get funding,” McKinney said.

“They have a potential shortfall,” Board Chairman Roger Nyquist said. “And that is a result of ODOT not keeping a commitment they made. Our approach is to get in touch with ODOT and find out why, find out if there’s another side to the story. ODOT needs to be held accountable for making a commitment and not keeping it.

“My sense is the board is committed to our partnership with Linn Shuttle. We’re also committed to making sure how tax dollars are being handled by other government agencies we’re partnered with and Linn Shuttle, in this case, specifically ODOT.

“For me, it’s just a number of questions I have for ODOT and how they’re spending taxpayer money in Linn County, or not spending it.”

“If that doesn’t work, I guess, we’ll cinch our belt and sweat a lot,” McKinney said.

in addition to the Brownsville-Albany route, which runs twice. Two routes are used to take disabled persons to their workshops, and the remaining runs are used by many seniors and disabled persons.