F’ville formally asks for tax-funded regional senior call center

A question has arisen about the Regional Call Center proposal submitted by Fayetteville for inclusion in the county’s submission to the Regional Transportation Roundtable (RTR) and whether Mayor Ken Steele acted independently or if the Fayetteville City Council approved the measure.

City records show that the council on March 17 adopted Resolution R-4-11 that included the call center.

Steele said the council at the March 17 meeting had voted to have the call center proposal included in the city’s submission to the county, and to become part of the Joint Submittal list to the RTR for later consideration as a potential project for voters to consider in the mid-2012 referendum. Steele on Monday said other counties in the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) area are also making a similar proposal.

A check of the minutes of the Fayetteville City Council’s March 17 meeting showed that the council discussed and voted to send the call center item to the county as part of city Resolution R-4-11. Included in the meeting minutes are the following statements:

“Mayor Steele added he brought in a project today requesting preliminary funding to establish a 1-800 call center for senior transportation throughout the region. They are requesting $500,000-700,000 for the first two years allocated to an agency to be determined, whether it is the GDOT (Ga. Dept. of Transportation) or ARC or RTR Board that would award the money to an entity to operate this program.

“This would not count as a project against any one political entity, county or city. This would be a regional cost. This is in concert with several senior transportation initiatives from 2008 and 2010. Other counties in the region are doing this as well. This is just one way we are trying to develop some transportation planning for our senior and disabled populations within the communities.”

The Fayetteville proposal calls for a one-call service center and accompanying web-based system to be built upon the previously established centers operated by ARC and the 211 service center operated by the United Way. The proposal does not specify where the call center would be located. Nor does it specify if the call center would be operated by a private company or a public/private agreement, though Steele had previously noted that, after start-up, he preferred that a private or public/private entity operate the center rather than having it operated as a “public entitlement program.”

Steele said the idea for the proposal originated with the ARC 2008 Atlanta Regional Transportation Management Coordination Center Feasibility Study which cited the need for a physical system to provide scheduling, dispatching, vehicle tracking and trip booking through a fully integrated human services transportation system.

Fayette County has the third fastest growing older population in the ARC region. Fayette’s senior population is expected to increase 450 percent in less than 30 years.

“There’s a real need for senior transportation. The (counties) are applying in hopes of getting the funding,” Steele said previously. “By all the counties asking for it that means it is worthwhile region-wide.”