Letter to the Editor
August 1, 2019
Last November, taxpayers voted to create a special tax district for senior services. They also voted in a board of directors to oversee the distribution of this money, which will soon become available for allocation.
The county has three senior centers, which are used by CCSS (Crook County Senior Services) to facilitate their programs, each having their own board of directors. Each senior center is entirely different, not only in ownership but in size, kitchen facilities, office space, upkeep, insurance etc. Sundance Senior Center owns their building and leases it to CCSS, Moorcroft occupies space owned by the city and Hulett rents space from the community center.
Due to budget restraints over the last several years, CCSS has been trying to juggle the expenses of programs, food, transportation, wages and so on on a limited budget and I believe the senior centers have been neglected. Now is the time to correct this, they cannot be supported by public donation alone.
Each center has its own needs and/or problems. Sundance has a beautiful building but it comes with an annual average overhead of $25,000 primarily generated by CCSS. Moorcroft will soon be moving to the Moorcroft Town Center, which will house them indefinitely.
The Moorcroft center gets no financial help other than donations; if they need a can of coffee or a roll of paper towels, it is donated by a board member or bought with money from carry in suppers. Board members often transport seniors in need of rides locally but if one has a doctor’s appointment in Gillette, their transportation has to come from Sundance. Board members open the center for morning coffees, schedule events, then put on these events, they do it all.
Hulett prepares their meal program in a very limited space and some would like to see more programs available to them locally.
With tax money becoming available, it can be used in various ways. If $10,000 would get Moorcroft back on their feet with a site manager, get their van back for transportation and possibly some housekeeping services, why wouldn’t that be a positive result? If Hulett decided they wanted to update their kitchen into a more workable space and it took $12,000 why couldn’t that be a possibility?
Even though Sundance is currently financially comfortable, if $500 a month rent would reduce their overhead, why should they be criticized or penalized when they would still be paying over 75 percent of expenses generated or for being financially responsible for the center’s future?
You may not be a senior citizen or you may not use any of the programs, but you or someone in your family will, and it would be a shame if they are not available. I have visited with numerous people and I am not saying that what I listed is exactly what the centers need or what would best serve the seniors of that community but I am asking “why isn’t it possible”?
The whole idea of this letter is to encourage people in each community to talk, talk with your seniors and find out what they need, what they want and what is available to them. Find out where your tax dollars are going. I firmly believe that when you voted for the mill levy you assumed it would go in part, to help support Senior Centers. Please don’t ASSUME it, ASSURE it.
I also believe board members have good intentions and care about the organizations they serve but being on boards is not easy. The best way for them to work for you and address your concerns is to contact them, go to their meetings, ask questions to get a better understanding of how it works or could work and get honest answers. Talk with your local senior center board, CCSS board and the new tax district board; this is an important issue and it is also your money, find out where it is going and get involved.
The opinions expressed are mine alone and may or may not reflect other member views.
Eleanor Glover, President, Sundance Senior Center Board