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Transportation program loses another agency

Change won’t affect services, officials say

Published: Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

DIXON – A second agency has pulled out of the Lee-Ogle Transportation System, saying it could no longer deal with delayed payments from the state.

The Hub City Senior Center in Rochelle withdrew effective Jan. 1, nearly 4 months after the departure of Rock River Center of Oregon.

Officials said the change would not affect services to Ogle County residents. The system, known as LOTS, gets funds from the state Department of Transportation to serve Lee and Ogle counties.

Under the program, people who are 60 and older or disabled get free rides; others pay a small fee.

LOTS has two remaining transportation providers – Kreider Services and Lee County Council on Aging. They include Ogle County in their service area.

“We station vehicles in Rochelle and continue as normal,” said Jaime Blatti, the system’s executive director. “It won’t change public transportation at all. We still provide service to all residents of Lee and Ogle counties.”

The state Department of Transportation encourages transportation agencies to move toward having one provider, rather than several, because of greater efficiency, Blatti said.

“As we get busier and busier, the financial constraints on smaller providers are difficult,” she said. “We’re in the third quarter of our fiscal year, and we still haven’t been reimbursed for our first quarter. Smaller agencies have to look for other sources of income and lines of credit.”

Connie Dougherty, Hub City director, confirmed the payment delay had led to her agency’s decision.

“It was creating a cash flow issue for us every quarter,” she said. “We don’t have much of a reserve.

“We are still working closely with LOTS, making sure everyone gets transported in Ogle County. It looks like it has been pretty seamless for the general public. Some of our people have gone to work for LOTS.”

Hub City still is providing a limited transportation service for seniors, Dougherty said.

On Sept. 4, Rock River Center, which serves seniors, left LOTS.

“My board says we can’t afford to carry these deficits any longer,” Karen Copeland, Rock River’s executive director, said at the time. “It was a tough decision to make.”

Rock River, too, continued to provide a limited service.

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