Butler County honors Jerry Nelson and Marvin Sizemore as Veterans of the Year.

Butler County veterans could get free bus passes to look for jobs, get to work

Commissioner Bruce Jones said officials are working with Matt Dutkevicz, executive director of the Butler County Regional Transit Authority, on a new program to help veterans get to work. One option they discussed was BCRTA would discount half the $40 monthly bus ticket and the vet board will subsidize the rest.

“He was very open to it I thought, they have a monthly pass that’s $40 and he is willing to go to his people and say they eat $20 of that, we pay $20 for that $40 pass and we would use that help the veterans get to jobs for now,” he said. “We would just use it on job-related things.”

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Dutkevicz said his board also met Wednesday and they have some questions about the proposal but are open to helping veterans.

“We’re looking at several options to work with the Butler County Veterans Service Commission to come up with a discounted ride program for getting vets to work,” he said.

Executive Director Caroline Bier said the new service wouldn’t start until next year because it isn’t budgeted, but she envisions the vet board buying the monthly passes in bulk to distribute them.

“We would be the gatekeepers of those passes,” she told the Journal-News. “We would be the ones that are ensuring that they’re veterans, ensuring that they are actually job-seeking.”

Board President Chuck Weber expressed some concern the new program could be open to fraud with people using passes to get to entertainment destinations or other non-job-related places.

“I’m OK with it, I understand the sentiment behind it and I think I’d want that kind of help if I was in that type of situation,” Weber said. “I guess I just don’t want to be careless with taxpayer money.”

The Middletown Veterans Service Commission office was shut down 14 months ago due to staffing issues but a new office will open in January.

He suggested there might be a way for the office to check with the vets — who would need to get a new pass each month — and ensure they are either working or actively job hunting.

Jones agreed they can work out some controls to ensure no one is abusing the new service. He said in the long run it could turn into a savings for taxpayers.

“I personally feel that it’s something we should offer. It’s not going to cost the taxpayers a ton of money to do something like this,” he said. “If it eliminates one person coming in and sitting here needing us to give them $2,000 and $3,000 a month or a year or whatever, I think it’s worth the $20 myself.”