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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 12, 2009

Senior services “feels the pinch”

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — A woman who calls herself an “advocate for seniors” has raised concerns about transportation cuts in senior services. Supervisor Kenneth Runion said the town is trying to economize and everybody “feels the pinch.”

Marie Sbardella, a former driver for senior services, now uses the transportation services herself. “Our seniors rely greatly on the transportation that has been provided to them in the past and they paid taxes for so many years to help fund town services,” Sbardella writes this week in a letter to The Enterprise editor.

Don Albright, director of transportation for senior services, which has a yearly budget in the neighborhood of $250,000, explained to The Enterprise what cuts have been made, and why. There are still two buses and one van used for transportation, although one bus is currently off the road for maintenance, he said. If the bus can’t be fixed, there is money in the budget to purchase a new one, said Albright.

Senior services had been taking elderly citizens to Wal-Mart and Crossgates Mall every week, but, starting in 2009, has switched to every other week for the shopping trips. Albright said that running the bus to shopping centers every other week makes more sense economically.

“I’m trying to fill the bus,” said Albright. “When we made the trip every week, we might only have one or two people on it. Running a bus with one person on it isn’t fiscally responsible.” Making the trip every other week puts more people on the bus at a time, said Albright.

Certain evening activities, such as transportation to the Guilderland High School play this week, have been eliminated in an effort to reduce overtime; Albright commented that every town department has been asked to cut overtime, and it’s not just the seniors being affected by that.

“We try to take care of the seniors as best we can, especially for their immediate needs,” said Albright. He noted that the immediate needs are medical appointments and grocery shopping, but also said that transportation to Tuesday and Thursday programs will not be cut. Senior services transports eight to ten people to various places each day, said Albright.

“If the economy improves and we have money to spare, we will bring all of the services back,” said Runion.

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