GIRARD City assures seniors they will have rides

Council's finance committee plans to meet more often.
GIRARD -- Senior citizens will continue to have access to transportation, despite the city's financial woes, Mayor James Melfi has promised.
The administration and city council will solve the transportation needs of seniors, Melfi assured a group of seniors who attended Monday night's council meeting to voice concerns about losing the service.
Deanna Teter Maynard, whose husband, Brian, drives the city-operated senior van, said at the meeting that an unnamed group is willing to donate $7,000 as the city's share to buy a new replacement van.
Grant to come: The balance of the purchase price, Teeter Maynard said, would come from a $22,000-to-$24,000 grant from District II Area Agency on Aging.
She said the agency has to have a city commitment by the end of the month. If not, the grant will be lost.
About 100 seniors ride the van weekly.
"You're going to be my age some day, God willing," 88-year-old Mary Jane Malloy told the administration and council.
Although the service is free, Malloy said she always donates for gas to run the van and would be willing to pay a fee.
A 79-year-old woman, who has never driven, said she has gained a sense of independence with the van. The woman said she used to have a lot of people who gave her rides, but some of them have died. Melfi said seniors will have transportation, but it may not be in the form of a city-operated van. He didn't elaborate.
Financial role: In another matter, it appears that council's finance committee will take more of a role in overseeing city finances.
The city has been under a state-imposed fiscal emergency since August. The city must cut $868,000 to balance this year's permanent budget.
During a finance committee meeting before the council session, Councilwoman Kathleen O'Connell Sauline, D-2nd, committee chairwoman, said her committee will meet weekly rather than monthly.
Sauline told city Auditor Sam Zirafi that she wants monthly reports of all funds, cash flow and overtime.
Sauline, who was named chairwoman earlier this month, explained she wants the committee to meet with department heads when they exceed their monthly overtime allocation.
Any increase in overtime, she asserted, will result in cuts in other parts of department budgets.
Wants to know: She asked Zirafi and city Treasurer John Martin to make her aware of "anything out of the ordinary" regarding city finances.
Asked if she was going to be more active in overseeing city finances, Sauline responded that she "wants to stay on top of things."
Sauline had expected to vote on a balanced budget Monday, but it was held up when state Auditor Jim Petro released the city's draft performance audit to the mayor, city auditor and council president.
Melfi is expected to share the long-awaited audit with council before this weekend. Zirafi said it will be made public by the end of the month.
Zirafi described the audit as being more than 250 pages and some of the cost-saving recommendations will be cause for debate.

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