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Senior van tops Oneida budget public hearing

The senior van was the hot topic at the proposed 2010 budget public hearing prior to the Oneida Common Council's regular meeting Nov. 17.

Marsha Signore was the first to step forward on behalf of the van.

"It's not a big deal to a lot of people but to the seniors, of which we we'll all be seniors one day, they need the van for social interaction, to get to the stores. They need to be able to get out," she said.

Signore, an employment specialist at Madison Cortland ARC, also sees the van as an important aspect of life for her consumers, using it to get back and forth to work.

"I understand that there are taxi cab company but when people live in Oneida, they work in Canastota, that's $20 a day. They make minimum wage. They can't afford it and I should not be the one to have to tell them they have to quit work because we can not provide transportation," Signore said.

Signore also added that there's a trickle effect as the people try to stay in town and buy locally.

"It's something I think we have to think about saving," she concluded.

Not originally planning on speaking, Gary Pantzer said he "was impressed by several of the speakers" to then address the council on behalf of the van.

"That does seem to be a quality of life issue, especially for the handicapped and elderly. Something like the senior van, I personally would be willing to see a small increase in my property taxes," he said. "I'm not saying I enjoy paying taxes but if it's for a good reason and managed well, then it's a fact of life."

Myles Nashton on the other hand said he is not for a property increase.

According to Oneida Recreation Director Brandon Lovett, there are 207 registered users of the van and that the unit of service is far greater. The van costs $1 per unit of service (one-way trip) within the city and $2 outside.

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