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7/12/2017 10:22:00 AM
Knox County OK's additional $25,000 in funds for VanGo

Jess Cohen, Vincennes Sun-Commercial

County council members on Tuesday agreed to shore up the 2017 budget for the county's only public transportation system by $25,000, but made sure to outline, in no uncertain terms, their expectations for the program moving forward.

VanGo, a service that is run by the Bettye J. McCormick Senior Center, was allocated $50,000 by the commissioners for 2017. But it turns out there is only $25,000 in the budget.

“We found out there'd been some communication issues,” council president Bob Lechner explained at the meeting.

The council had been approving a $25,000 contribution to the program on an annual basis, he said, with the exception of one year when that contribution was doubled. In a recent grant request on behalf of VanGo, the commissioners instead sought $50,000 to put toward the program as it has struggled due to budget constraints and a loss of several federal grants — but for whatever reason, lines were crossed and council appropriated only $25,000.

The commissioners unanimously decided to move forward with the additional request in June.

In the end, council approved the $25,000 transfer, to be taken out of the county's share of Economic Development Income Tax dollars, on a 6-1 vote with councilman Harry Nolting opposed.

But other members spoke up to note that they still had not received a couple things that they had been asking for over the course of the past five months or so.

Nolting took issue with the fact that in February, council had asked senior center director Nola Davis for information about whether the major employers in the county who benefit from this service, as many workers use it to get to and from their jobs, had been asked to contribute toward VanGo.

But, Nolting said, they never got an answer.

Councilman Tim Crowley, who noted that he's “absolutely in support” of the program, pointed out that during an April council meeting, the group moved to receive quarterly reports from VanGo that outline the program's dollars and cents, profits and losses, and bottom line in light of budget shortfalls that have led the county council and Vincennes city council to boost their annual contributions significantly as well as cover budget deficits.

The council has not received any reports, Crowley said, and two quarters have passed since then.

Joe LaRocca, interim CEO at the YMCA for a couple more weeks until incoming leader Pat Herman takes over, was at the meeting in Davis' place and assured the council that he'd pass along the requests and that the reports would be forthcoming for their scheduled August meeting.

Related Stories:
• Vincennes votes to double annual contribution to VanGo to $40,000

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