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Schuyler is seeking buses

MONTOUR FALLS—Schuyler County is seeking more than $300,000 in federal stimulus funds to establish a bus system to connect the county’s four villages.
The county legislature approved an application for up to $400,000 at its meeting Monday (April 13).
The purchase of three buses and related equipment will cost about $304,000, said County Administrator Tim O’Hearn. He said the state Department of Transportation suggested that the county apply for the funds.
“We stand a good chance of receiving this funding and the buses that go with it,” O’Hearn said.
The buses, which cost about $65,000 each, will be supplemented by shelters, signs and GPS tracking software. Although no agreement has been reached, the likely operator of the system is The Arc of Schuyler County.
“This does not fund any personnel costs at all,” O’Hearn said. “That would be Arc’s responsibiity.”
The buses would run Monday through Friday on a route that would take them through Watkins Glen, Montour Falls, Odessa and Burdett. The county’s two-year-old plan for public transportation envisions such a system, but funding had not been available until now.
The federal funds, provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, would be funneled through the state Department of Transportation. The buses are expected to run hourly or every other hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., O’Hearn said.
Legislator Dennis Fagan pointed out that the proposal calls for service only in the eastern part of the county.
“Initially this leaves the west side of the county out in the cold,” he said.
If the multi-year trial project is successful, O’Hearn said, the county could consider expanding it to communities on the west side.
No date has been set for launching the system and no decision has been made on bus fares.
“It’s too early to look at rates,” O’Hearn said. “We could have different rate structures for different populations.”
The federal money would initially be used to purchase two 16-passenger buses and one larger vehicle.
“This all came about very quickly,” O’Hearn said. “It happened in the last two weeks. There’s a commitment at the state level to make this happen.”
In other action, the lawmakers imposed a ban on the use of scented items—such as potpourri, scented candles, oils and air freshener strips or sprays—-in county buildings.
O’Hearn said employees of the Social Services department complained about the odors.
“There have been complaints in one department and we are aggressively responding to that,” O’Hearn said.
Stacy Husted, legislature clerk, said the ban will not apply to after-shave lotions, colognes or perfumes applied by employees.
The resolution banning the scented items notes the “high risk of employees arid visitors having sensitivity and/or allergic reactions to various scents and aromas.”
Complaints will be handled by each department administrator or by the Human Resources Department.
The ban on scented items will also apply to county vehicles, said  deputy legislature clerk Jamee Mack.

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