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05-10-03: Senior council to ask voters for funds
The Daily Standard
    The Mercer County Council on Aging in November will ask county voters to approve an addition to the property tax millage now collected by the agency to combat recent budget reductions.
    The Mercer County Commissioners passed a resolution Thursday declaring a need to increase the council's funding by a small .2 mills. Voters in 1999 renewed a five-year, .35-mill levy that has been in place since 1989. The current funding cycle ends at the close of 2004.
    With the council for senior services and activities going to the polls this November for a renewal, it is technically called a replacement because a year of funding still remains.
    The .55-mill levy that is to appear on the November ballot will take up where the current funding ends, providing funds for 2005 through 2009.
    The council on aging board of directors sent a letter to commissioners requesting they certify the issue to the ballot because operating grants that suppliment the budget funds are being reduced and eliminated.
    In 1989 "the council requested and received .35 mills from the voters. The council on aging has done its best to use these funds wisely and efficiently, using volunteers to augment levy and grant monies through garage sales and other projects," board president Elaine Maurer wrote in her request to commissioners.
    Commissioner clerk Kim Everman said state law requires the commissioners be the lead agency and put the issue on the ballot on behalf of the council on aging.
    Maurer said the council received a federal operating grant of $46,671 in 1989 and it is only $43,748 in 2003; a state block grant for transportation has been cut three percent a year for the past two years and more cuts are expected. She said the council's homemaker program received $31,558 in federal and state match funds in 2001, only $9,625 in 2003 and both have been cut for the future. Also, contributions from the Mercer County Civic Foundation have dropped 60 percent.
    "At the same time funding is decreasing, the number and needs of our senior population are growing," Maurer wrote."It is for these reasons that we seek not only a replacement, but an increase."


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