WILMINGTON — The board for Community Action is asking that $90,000 in surplus funds from the senior services levy go toward the Clinton County Senior Citizen Center annually.
The Clinton County Community Action Program (CCCAP) owns and operates the senior center. In making the funding proposal Monday to Clinton County commissioners, Community Action’s board of trustees cited three recent drops in revenue that have hurt the center’s financial condition.
The largest decline is a cut of at least $60,000 this year in Older Americans Act (Title III) funding for the senior citizens center’s programs, according to the board. Second, revenue from Bingo fundraisers has fallen about $25,000 to $30,000 per year, which the board in its written proposal attributed to an “influx of casinos and racinos in Ohio.”
And third, United Way funding has been reduced by more than $5,000 this year, according to the board’s written statement.
The CCCAP board chairman, Rev. Dean Feldmeyer, said that the past couple years Community Action has made up for the decline in revenue, but continuing to do so will deplete cash reserves.
The written proposal states the Council on Aging has indicated it expects “an excess” of more than $821,000 in Elderly Services Levy funds at the end of 2017. And the statement further says the Elderly Services Levy was created to fund programs that serve Clinton County seniors, and that the senior center likewise was created to serve the county’s seniors.
With those assertions as a basis, the Community Action board asked commissioners to direct $90,000 of the levy funds to be used for the programs and expenses of the senior center each year, beginning immediately.
In the session with commissioners, CCCAP Executive Director Dean Knapp said the model initially set up to operate the senior programs “frankly no longer works — you can’t continuously lose money year after year.”
The revenue from holding weekly Bingo games, along with Community Action dollars, have been used for years to upgrade the CCCAP vehicle fleet, said Knapp. That transportation program provides transit for Clinton County senior residents to go to medical appointments, banks and to the Clinton County Adult Day Center among other things.
Typically, it is seniors who live in Clinton County’s outlying areas who utilize the transportation service, said Knapp.
The transportation funding is “already used up this year,” he said.
At one point, Clinton County Commissioner Kerry Steed asked whether any of Community Action’s senior services funds are specifically designated for seniors in Sabina, Blanchester, New Vienna or elsewhere, or “specifically just for those at the senior center in Wilmington.”
Knapp said the facility on North Nelson Avenue in Wilmington is for the entire county.
Steed said if seniors can get to the senior center, then they can have access to the funds.
Feldmeyer said the center’s free transportation service can be used to travel to the facility and benefit from the programs, and CCCAP board member Randy Riley said the center is for every Clinton County senior citizen.
Steed said it’s very important that any decision the commissioners make regarding the requested funds be a decision that takes into consideration all Clinton County seniors and “not just those that are located in Wilmington.”
Feldmeyer said it is key to keep in mind that Community Action is not asking for money that would have been spent in other parts of the county if it isn’t designated for the senior center.
“We’re asking for money sitting there not being used for anything,” said Feldmeyer, who is challenging Steed in the November election for a commissioner’s seat.
Michael Daugherty, who is a CCCAP board member and the Clinton County Municipal Court judge, spoke at the meeting.
“This [Senior Center] program prolongs quality of life for the people we owe honor to. We shouldn’t have to make a deal here in order to convince you to do the right thing with dollars that the voters have set aside to protect their grandparents with,” said Daugherty.
Clinton County Commissioner President Mike Curry said commissioners need to plug in numbers for the next five-year Elderly Services Levy cycle to see the revenue projections and make an informed decision on the funding request.
Clinton County Community Action has been in operation since 1965. It is a private, non-profit organization. The primary goal at Community Action is to work toward the elimination of poverty in Clinton County, states its website.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.