By Bob Balgemann


Boone County now is involved in discussions with the Rockford Mass Transit District (RMTD) about the future of fix-route bus service in the City of Belvidere.

County officials met in May with Richard McVinnie, executive director of the district, to discuss how the funding for continued service would be provided.

Currently, the City of Belvidere has provided $25,000 in its 2016-17 budget to keep buses following through June 2017. However, the transit district has expanded its search for dollars to include the county along with the nine townships. More than half of the City of Belvidere’s residents also live within Belvidere Township.

Lisa Brown, marketing and public relations specialist for the district, offered the following report on the joint meeting in May:

“Bus service in Belvidere effective July 1, or thereabouts, will be changing. What that change entails at this time is still undetermined and under consideration. Funding from the City of Belvidere is in place; however, additional dollars will most likely be needed.

“Other potential funding sources are reviewing their budgets to determine what can be provided toward this service. As soon as the details all are in place, a joint public announcement will be made. We will be advising of any changes to the service in plenty of time to allow our loyal riders to make adjustments to their transit commutes.”

Ridership during the 2013-14 fiscal year, from July 1 to June 30, totaled 15,168, according to figures provided by Brown. In 2014-15, the number increased to 16,341, she reported.

In 2015-16, through February 2016, there have been 11,722.

RMTD buses followed a fixed route within the Belvidere city limits from 7:20 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day. To keep that level of service, the RMTD board agreed in February that Belvidere would need to provide the same level of funding as comes from other municipalities served by the district.

For example, Machesney Park is paying $176,400 a year for its fixed-route and para-transit services.

The local share of costs of differing levels of service currently on the table in Belvidere would range from $29,916 to $157,869 a year. Other participants in that expense are riders through their fares and an Illinois Downstate Operating Fund (DOAP) grant. The DOAP funding would account for 65 percent of the overall cost.

Most costly would be keeping the current route that has 10 round-trips and four express trips. The lowest level of service proposed would have just five trips and only to the Boone County Council on Aging complex on Henry Lucklow Lane.

During the county board’s June 15 meeting, it was agreed to return the issue to the finance, taxation, and salaries committee for further discussion at its July meeting.

County Administrator Ken Terrinoni reported the transit district had asked the county for $5,000. He said the only way the county could afford that request would be through a slight increase in the property tax levy.

Board Chairman Bob Walberg said the county was a cause this year, with proceeds from a recent golf tournament being earmarked “to help us out.”








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