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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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7/20/2012 7:27:00 AM
Taxi-voucher program put in 'park'
Funding for Cottonwood�s taxi-voucher program has been exhausted, leaving those who use the program looking for new transportation alternatives to supplement the CAT para-transit program. VVN/Jon Pelletier
Funding for Cottonwood�s taxi-voucher program has been exhausted, leaving those who use the program looking for new transportation alternatives to supplement the CAT para-transit program. VVN/Jon Pelletier
�The benefits are wonderful,� said Cottonwood Community Services Manager Richard Faust (right), �but the program presents numerous challenges. The question is this an essential or non-es
�The benefits are wonderful,� said Cottonwood Community Services Manager Richard Faust (right), �but the program presents numerous challenges. The question is this an essential or non-es

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter


COTTONWOOD -- It seems Cottonwood will continue to idle for a while with its taxi-voucher program for handicapped riders.

During the hiatus, the city will work through its larger responsibility of monitoring its ADA+ programs and finding an additional partner to help share the cost.

The City Council had considered adopting a Memorandum of Understanding with the Northern Arizona Council of Governments for an additional $2,500 to cover taxi-voucher services until the federal fiscal year budget takes effect in October. The city has already applied for a grant for $10,000 in the new fiscal year.

But council members agreed that the stop-gap amount would not go far enough, since a $40,000 amount budgeted for the CAT system in Cottonwood and Flagstaff Mountain Line Para-transit system was exhausted long before the end of the budget year.

"$2,500 will not meet expectations," Mayor Diane Joens agreed.

"The benefits are wonderful," said Cottonwood Community Services Manager Richard Faust, "but the program presents numerous challenges. The question is this an essential or non-essential service."

According to Faust, the issues deal with the red tape involved in all ADA programs. When the federal transit New Freedom 5317 program was started by the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority, NAIPTA had a separate ADA coordinator to comply with ADA laws, certifying and fingerprinting of taxi contractors, and meeting the requirements of the DES, ADOT and NACOG and liability.

"We must follow-through with the guidelines," explained Faust. "There is a high level of programming.

"We have a one-man band," pointing at Transportation Manager Bruce Morrow.

"We can be proud of the CAT program. But NAIPTA was better staffed. It is too soon for us. We should step back and get the program on a firm foundation," said Faust.

Faust said that one CAT employee is taking the training needed to be certified to work with the ADA issues and she should be certified within a month.

The council discussed services provided by the Verde Valley Caregivers, a non-profit group that provides services to handicapped and seniors. Volunteer Mary Eichmann said volunteers need 48 hours lead time and drive clients to appointments, without charge or compensation.

City officials say they have also been in touch with the Easter Seals program.

Rider Nancy Schwandilla told the council, "We need a seamless transportation system. We really need help. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. "

Steve Hiatt, who was disabled in 2003, said the taxi vouchers save a lot of time and money and drivers help with carrying groceries and other chores that bus drivers cannot.

Faust told the council that CAT wants to get back to the original frequency of a half-hour turnaround rather than one hour and back to three lines instead of two. "But the state is telling us, 'slow down, there is not much money now and less in the future.'"

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, July 21, 2012
Article comment by: Frank Henry

The city says they may be low on cash.

The city is not a charity organization...some may
say.

And also the city should not be squandering its
meager revenues...others will say.

1. Have a question...Why is the city spending a
large sum of money (about a million per year)
for the very low level of cleaning arsenic from
the water system...since it seems the low level
requirement is not backed by actual so-call
improved health factors??? Maybe the city
elected and appointed officials have the info
to answer/support the question.

2. Have an efficiency question...how much is a
cab ride (say $20) and, how much did/does it
cost for the gov (city, local, county, state, fed)
to get that $20 to the cab driver (is it $2,000 or
what?)???


Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012
Article comment by: Mary Eichman

I'd like to add some info to my comments in the article. We help the disabled and elderly with no income qualification level. We do not transport wheelchairs, but do transport walkers. Some riders also carry small oxygen tanks. I don't do any hands-on assistance, but since I drive a Buick Regal, everyone seems to enjoy the ease of exiting and the smooth ride. It seems that we could help most who spoke in the audience at the council meeting, except for the person in a wheelchair. Contact with volunteers goes through the Verde Valley Caregiver office at 204-1238, All are welcome to call for information.



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