The Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities wants to know if it’s cost-effective to let the public bus authority take over transportation of its clients with a new service dedicated only to the DD organization.
The Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities approved Saturday a feasibility study to determine whether the organization should contract with the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority to transport people with disabilities to schools and workshops.
Board Superintendent Bill Green said the approval did not mean people with disabilities would be riding public SARTA buses.
More than 40 people attended the Saturday morning board meeting at the Whipple Dale Workshops, 2950 Whipple Ave. NW.
Meta Shockley of Waynesburg Drive SE told the board she did not understand why the board would consider the SARTA bus system after the board already had buses.
Ken Anderson, 31-year employee and president of staff support for Developmental Disabilities, was concerned about the “outsourcing of transportation services,” noting that the jobs of those who already transport the clients and know them would be at stake.
“Please make the right decision,” he told the board.
But Green said the approval simply means that the board will ask the Dayton-based RLS & Associates to conduct a study, which costs about $13,000.
The group is expected to present the pros and cons and longterm cost-effectiveness of whether the board should contract with SARTA to provide a new service dedicated solely to Developmental Disabilities clients.
The board wants to know how much money it could save by transferring the 115 vehicles and 128 transportation employees to the transit authority.
This includes bus drivers, riders, managers and mechanics.
The board currently provides transportation for about 500 people, said Lisa Parramore, communications specialist. She said about 43 percent of the adults who are involved work in the Stark County community. They use the service to get to their jobs, to workshops and to schools.
The feasibility study was requested as a cost-cutting measure. The board has been dealing with less funding yet a higher demand for services.
“If we do everything as we’re doing today, we will run out of money in 2018,” Green told the board.
The board’s approval of the feasibility study does not mean it is a done deal.
If the board wants to make the switch, its members would consult with individuals who use the organization’s current transportation system and with their families as well as hold public meetings, Green said.
The results of the study are expected to be presented to the board at its August meeting.