Cortland County Lawmakers Debate Spending Cuts to Aging Services & Use of Fund Balance
Cortland County lawmaker’s continued their marathon budget review sessions Wednesday; lawmakers reviewed several department spending plans and clashed over the use of County fund balance to restore proposed cuts.
Lawmakers reviewed proposed cuts in the County Office of Aging, County Administrator Martin Murphy’s $123 million dollar spending plan calls for cuts to some of the senior centers that serve the outlying communities in the county.
Murphy’s cuts include reducing the number of hours that the facilities are staffed and also would cut the number of days a week that some centers are open. The two hardest hit centers are located in Towns of Truxton & Scott.
This is the second year in a row that the county has considered cuts for the senior centers, last year the agency made administrative cuts and consolidated home bound meals on wheels routes to avoid closures at the senior centers.
Liz Haskins who heads up the Aging Office says her department looked at ways to avoid the cuts such as setting a fixed price for meals offered at the centers or having seniors make meal reservations to cut costs; Haskins said the seniors who responded to surveys on those options rejected the proposals.
Haskins said that she is confident that the cuts will not hurt the seniors that use the centers, she is more concerned about homebound seniors and making sure that meal programs are available to support that population.
Lawmakers have scheduled a public hearing for December 5th to receive public input on the proposed budget. The tentative spending plan will increase spending by 1% and will increase taxes by just under 2%.