Senior Center: Council shows concern for constraints due to budgeting

May 02, 2007
Santa Paula City Council

Enhancing the senior experience is going to take more funding the Council learned at the April 16 meeting, where they received an update on city provided senior services.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesEnhancing the senior experience is going to take more funding the Council learned at the April 16 meeting, where they received an update on city provided senior services. The last report on maintaining present services and providing more of same - a Council goal - was presented in October, said Community Services Director Brian Yanez.“The Senior Nutrition Program that we inherited from the county seems to continue to grow,” with about 300 seniors a month enjoying lunch, said Yanez. Overall, “We have a part-time Senior Center with a part-time staff, a part-time senior nutrition program and lots of volunteers that come and go” at the center, which is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.The Council-appointed Commission on Aging is the center’s advisory board that meets monthly to “provide direction or present ideas they might have,” said Yanez.Part-time Senior Center Coordinator Michelle Kalcec has increased attendance, but budget constraints are hampering offerings. “There is really no budget for it,” as the program is funded from the General Fund recreation budget and Community Development Block Grant allocations. “We really have to start looking into full-time staff” to allow more time for programs that rely on volunteer leadership.“There’s not much time for outreach and marketing, and having a seniors’ budget” would allow better programs and services, said Yanez. Future needs include a stand-alone center - the Senior Center has space at the Community Center - as the present location hampers programs and services, which could include computers and pool tables.
“We do provide health screenings, 55 Alive (driving program), blood pressure testing, exercise classes and other programs, but the present space does not provide room for program expansion. “Also, future needs are for a satellite senior center; we probably need something” in the center or east end of the city. Although there is a rising number of center participants, “We’re doing as much as we can to provide these services on a part-time basis,” noted Yanez.Kalcec agreed that the center has experienced “significant growth in the past year,” with new programs or those “significantly improved.... We continue to do the best we can” with limited resources, but the future requires a plan and funding.“You bring a spark to what you do,” said Vice Mayor John Procter.Councilman Dr. Gabino Aguirre asked if modifying existing space is possible. Yanez noted that the Cultural Arts building - which has various users - could possibly be upgraded and “used to its maximum” for a Senior Center and possible joint use.Aguirre expressed concern over the overall low budget of the Recreation Department, “It seems like we declined what used to be before.... There’s more and more a demand on services,” and he asked that Yanez bring up the issue during the upcoming budget session for Council prioritization.



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