Orleans trims $130K in preschool busing

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 June 2013 at 12:00 am

Collaboration with Genesee County Health Dept paying off

ALBION – Orleans County expects to save $130,000 annually in the cost of transporting pre-school children with disabilities to early intervention and supportive health programs.

The county approved a five-year deal on Wednesday with the Genesee ARC for busing children, ages 3 to 5, to program sites in and out of county. The county was able to group its busing needs with Genesee County’s, and that joint application drove down the costs for both counties, said Paul Pettit, director of public health for both counties.

Orleans has been working with Ridge Road Express for its transportation, while Genesee has hired Attica Bus Services. The counties are obligated to work out the transportation for children with disabilities, ages 3 to 5, according to a state law.

Counties list the service as one of the “9 for 90” state-mandated programs that stress county budgets. The nine programs consume more than 90 percent of most counties tax levies, according to the New York State Association of Counties.

Orleans and Genesee’s transportation contracts expire this summer. Genesee ARC will start Sept. 1.

The contract calls for Orleans to pay $38.83 per child for each round trip within the county, and $214.63 for daily trips outside the county with another $61.25 for a bus aide for a round trip. Those costs are “significantly less” than what Orleans has been paying, Pettit said.

Genesee and Orleans have been sharing a public health director since October in a shared service initiative, the only one of its kind in the state. Legislature Chairman David Callard praised the initiative for yielding savings to taxpayers.

The two-county effort has yielded another benefit: a free staffer for the next two years. The two counties submitted an application to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention for a public health associate fellow. The application was approved and a public health specialist will be placed in the two counties the next two years.

Orleans had applied for the associate the previous two years, but was denied. Pettit believes the collaboration with Genesee gave the counties a stronger application this round.

“We’re able to essentially get some free help over the next two years,” he told Orleans legislators.