Brookfield, Vienna and Hartford townships are exploring creating a senior center together with use of Trumbull County Senior Levy Services funds, but they learned in a Zoom meeting July 28 that the process is not as simple as asking for money and getting it.
Brookfield Trustee Gary Lees envisions creating the center at the township social hall, and having it open for four hours a day, five days a week. A hired, part-time person would manage the center, which would offer a meal each day.
“This would be strictly for Vienna, Hartford and Brookfield” residents, he said.
Trumbull County Senior Levy Services is funded by a 0.75-mill levy that raises about $2.5 million a year, said Diane Siskowic-Jurkovic, senior levy administrator. About $2.4 million is spent for senior transportation, in-home assistance, protective services, home-delivered meals, senior centers and small senior-related projects. Brookfield used a $5,000 levy grant to buy a new senior citizens van, although the van has not run yet because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
About $600,000 is made available for senior centers, at about $50,000 for each of the 10 senior centers, she said. Non-profit organizations submit bids for senior center funding, and that money is paid as reimbursements for services provided.
“The senior centers bid on so many hours of fitness, say, a chair yoga class or line dancing classes,” Siskowic-Jurkovic said. “Then, so many craft classes. There’s instructional programs; you might want to bring somebody in to discuss the various programs available through Medicare. All of those things, you’re trying to figure out how many seniors will be attracted to those programs that will walk through the door and then break the total cost down by the number of seniors walking through your door.”
Centers that are awarded first-year funding must come up with a dollar-for-dollar match. “That’s because we want to make sure that it’s going to work,” she said. “We don’t want to tie up funding for a senior center that maybe just don’t get the population you thought you would.”
The levy administration accepts in-kind services toward the match, which could include township payment of things such as rental fees, utilities, cleanup and snow removal.
Vienna participates with Fowler in a senior program that meets every Thursday in Fowler, to which Vienna trustees contribute $600 a year. Vienna Trustee Phil Pegg was highly critical of the levy program, which he said provides services to large-population residents at the expense of townships, something Siskowic-Jurkovic said is not the levy’s intent.
In response to the senior center model that Siskowic-Jurkovic described, Pegg said: “They (seniors) don’t want aerobics. They don’t want anything other than a place to gather to play bridge, to play euchre, to play cards.”
Lees and former Trustee Janalyn Saloom created the Over the Hill Gang, a senior group that meets once a month in the social hall – currently on hiatus due to COVID-19 – and attracts people from outside of the township. It does have programs such as what Siskowic-Jurkovic described.
Brookfield Trustee Dan Suttles said he would want to accommodate the Over the Hill Gang and the Brookfield Township Volunteer Fireman’s Auxiliary, which uses the hall to host funeral dinners. Lees said he believes that could be done.
Siskowic-Jurkovic said she wants to encourage the formation of new senior centers, because active, socialized seniors are less likely to need the other services the levy pays for. She also said that the trustees are welcome to create their own model for a senior center.
“Each senior center has its own personality,” she said. “What works in downtown Warren is not gonna work in Kinsman.”
Typically, levy officials accept bids for senior center funds in March, she said.