County commissioners question Senior Citizens' Services Fund Board grant to cab service

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Twenty-two Cape Girardeau programs have been recommended for grants by Cape Girardeau County Senior Citizens' Services Fund Board this year, a total of $547,450.

But a $6,000 grant suggested for Gold Leaf Transportation, a year-old cab service in Jackson, raised questions among Cape Girardeau County commissioners on Thursday. Commissioners must approve the senior board's funding recommendations.

After 1st District Commissioner Larry Bock questioned why county funds would be given to a private company such as Gold Leaf, the board agreed to delay a vote on the issue until Monday's meeting.

Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones also questioned the grant, especially in light of services being provided by the Cape Girardeau County Transit Authority, which provides on-call service to Jackson residents. The senior board has recommended giving the transit authority $100,000. Only two other grants of that size are being recommended, for senior centers in Jackson and Cape Girardeau.

"There's nothing in the law that says you can't give grants to a private company," said Dale Rauh, chairman of the senior board. "The two criteria are, you must be a resident of Cape Girardeau County and you must be serving people 60 years and older."

But he said the assumption the $6,000 would have otherwise gone to the transit authority is inaccurate.

"It may go to others. We may divide it up," he said. But the senior board wanted Gold Leaf to have some support because the company charges less for rides than the transit authority does.

"We realize Cape County Transit is a county service," he said. "Nevertheless, we thought we'd be doing a disservice if we wouldn't fund Gold Leaf at all. There are senior citizens, particularly in the Jackson area, who need this."

Gold Leaf, founded by Harold and Sherri Coomer of Jackson in the fall of 2007, initially requested $50,000, according to the grant recommendations document sent to commissioners by the senior board.

Sherri Coomer and Jones did not respond to phone messages Friday.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

388-3646

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