Commissioners approve transportation contracts

LISBON –Separate contracts that would continue providing subsidized transportation for Medicaid recipients and the working poor were approved this week by Columbiana County commissioners.

The contracts are between the county Department of Job and Family Services and the Community Action Rural Transit System, the county’s public transportation system run by the Community Action Agency. The one contract, a renewal, is to continue providing transportation for Medicaid recipients to medical appointments. There are about 21,000 county residents on Medicaid, 8,500 of whom use the transportation service during the most recent quarterly period.

The one-year contract is for up to $1.4 million. JFS Director Eileen Dray-Bardon said the problem is many of the appointments are to medical facilities in Youngstown, Cleveland or Pittsburgh, which drives up costs.

The other contract with CARTS raises the contract ceiling from $25,000 to $50,000 for the program that transports the working poor to and from their jobs. Eligibility is income based, and the additional funding is needed because of increased demand, Dray-Bardon said.

She said the riders pay a $2 toll each way.

Dray-Bardon also received approval from commissioners to increase the amount of money being spent on pest extermination services for elderly households, from $20,000 to $40,000. Unlike the transportation programs, which are federally funded, the money for this comes from a senior services levy passed by voters several years ago.

The levy is to help elderly poor people who live in their own home, and one of the services involves pest extermination. The contract expires Sept. 30, but like the other services funded by the levy, Dray-Bardon said they are finding a greater demand than initially anticipated, which is why they need to allocate more funding.

Twenty five homes have received extermination treatments since Jan. 1, at a cost of $1,500 to $2,000 each. She told commissioners most of the household exterminations — 81 percent, to be exact — are for bed bugs. Dray-Bardon said the costs are so high because an extermination requires three treatments.