ZANESVILLE – The Muskingum County Center for Seniors is starting to come to life after participants have spent the past year locked in their homes.
A social ice cream Thursday was the first event the center has hosted in months. It has been a happy day for the elderly in the Zanesville area, but senior center officials say they will need additional financial assistance to keep these events afloat.
Even after a year without operations, costs have skyrocketed due to increased demand for other services. Officials have therefore started to take steps to increase tax revenue so that the elderly center can continue to function as it should, they said. They would increase the current 0.5 mills to 0.75, increasing annual income from $ 850,000 to $ 1.4 million.
After:The Center for the elderly considers a new tax to compensate for the increase in services
After:Commissioners forgive 2 years of rent at the Center for the elderly
The officials do not know what will happen next. Demand for meal delivery increased by almost 50% and more transportation services were requested.
“COVID has thrown us so many question marks,” Center for Seniors interim director David Boyer said. “Who knows what the new normal will be once we officially put COVID in the rearview mirror? We can guess, speculate, but we really don’t know.”
Last week, senior officials from the center gave a presentation on levies to county commissioners. The idea is to continue to make the Center for Seniors a community hub, even if some still need these services at home.
The centre’s finances took a hit during the pandemic, officials said. Last year, the county voted to waive rent payments for two years because of these financial problems. Commissioner Mollie Crooks said they were operating with a deficit of around $ 200,000 in the last few years even before the pandemic.
The need has not gone away however, and now even more of those expenses have escalated – delivery vans need to be replaced; building maintenance should be addressed. In addition, they will have to cope with an aging population of baby boomers who will soon need the services of a center for the elderly.
First event since the pandemic closed its doors
In the meantime, regulars at the center have missed their local meeting place. Just seeing their friends in person was something many said they would no longer take for granted.
Marge Miller and Don Mount are old friends. They work together at The Wilds and are both regulars at the senior center. Tai chi and bingo are often part of their schedule when they are off the clock.
Neither uses the meal service, but Miller said it’s important to keep running if necessary.
“Some of us seniors don’t have as much money as others,” Miller said. “It’s a square meal, which a senior can have at a price they can afford, and they can depend on it five days a week.”
It was easy for Charlie Green to describe how the last year had gone.
“Terrible,” he said. “We had no socialization, a lot of the elderly were locked in their homes so to speak, and nowhere to go. That’s where everyone came from. We all know each other.”
Lonnie Larson said the pandemic was not good because he is not a homebody; he is a social person. He enjoys meeting people, but also learning new skills such as art. “(The center) provides so much,” he said.
A takeaway about the tax, Taylor said: Caring for the elderly is crucial.
“Many of us hold a special place in our hearts for the elderly,” he said. “They have made this community great, and we owe it to them to treat them with respect and support in their later years.”