Through the generous support of the local business community, the City of Hazelwood is pleased to announce that enough private funds have been raised to maintain its senior bus transportation service for the rest of the current fiscal year, up to June 30.
Faced with a looming $1.42 million dollar budget deficit, the City of Hazelwood attempted to resolve this crisis by putting two tax referendum proposals on the Aug. 5th ballot. Prop S passed with a favorable vote of 60%; however, Prop U failed with a favorable vote of 44%. Hazelwood needed both of them to pass in order to create an on-going revenue stream to help offset the budget deficit. Since only one was approved by local voters, the City Council was forced to make some deep budget cuts.
An effort was made to make the cuts as painless as possible, and across the board so no particular citizen group would be targeted more than the others. The senior bus transportation service, which cost the City at least $37,000 to maintain on a yearly basis, was among a series of budget and service reductions that were made to cut the City’s deficit in half. Other cutbacks included the fall leaf vacuuming program, spring brush and limb collection, mosquito spraying, some community events, reduced street maintenance and snow plowing, as well as reduced community center hours.
Most of these cuts were scheduled to take effect on Oct. 1, but the senior bus service was granted an extension until Nov. 1 while the City pursed other fund-raising options in the private sector. “Knowing that many of our residents rely on the City’s senior bus transportation service to make doctor’s appointments, go to the grocery store and maintain an active lifestyle, we aggressively sought sponsorships and corporate-giving donations from local businesses,” Hazelwood City Manager Matthew Zimmerman said. “Thanks to the generosity of our corporate community, we’ve been able to generate enough financial support to continue the bus service until June 30.”
“It’s great to see our local businesses, both big and small, come together like family and take care of the seniors in our community. Many of our seniors are on fixed incomes and can’t afford to own a vehicle. Or, they can’t drive any more,” Hazelwood Ward 3 Councilman Don Ryan said. “Our senior bus service gives them access to affordable transportation and they really appreciate the efforts of these businesses to keep it going — it means a lot to them.”
The Parks and Recreation Division provides seniors, age 55 and over, and disabled residents with free curbside transportation for doctor appointments, shopping, banking and recreation. Approximately 2,387 rides are provided on a yearly basis. It operates a 16-passenger shuttle bus that is fully accessible to ADA-eligible citizens. Other activities provided by the bus service include sight-seeing tours, and trips to local shopping malls as well as area casinos. Residents can find information on them in the latest Parks and Recreation Activity Guide.
To participate in the bus service, individuals must live in the City of Hazelwood and have an application on file in the Parks and Recreation Office. Bus reservations must be made a minimum of 48 hours in advance. This bus service is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information or to make a reservation, call (314) 839-5575.