Wilkowski proposes cuts that would fund senior citizen programWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Democratic Mayoral Candidate Keith Wilkowski announced Aug. 6 that as mayor he would cut 10 percent from the mayor’s office budget to finance the expansion of an Area Office on Aging program.
The program, called the Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol Program, has operated since 2000 to train volunteers to check up on seniors in their home to ensure they are safe and getting the attention or medication they need, said director Sally Davies.
Last year, 55 volunteers worked for nearly 6,000 hours to serve 80 clients, and Wilkowski said he wants community involvement and aid to seniors expand. He said he wants the program to operate at all eight of the senior centers in the city, but his four-year plan would start with two. Cutting between $90,000 and $110,000 from the mayor’s office budget would allow him to spend $43,125 on each center, he added.
“This is not going to be easy; this is going to be hard, but across the board cuts are things that are going to have to happen in 2010 and they’re going to start with my office, Wilkowski said. “People will not to sacrifice but we have to have our priorities in order and to me this is a top priority.”
Wilkowski said some positions would have to be “sacrificed,” and the administration would need to rework or consolidate certain factions of the mayor’s office.
The current program funds service vehicles, uniforms for the volunteers, police officers who train the volunteers and communication devices. Wilkowski’s plan would allot $5,000 for a refurbished vehicle; $13,000 for annual gasoline and maintenance costs; $4,125 for uniforms; $1,000 for scanners and cell phones, and $20,000 for police supervisor costs, at each of the proposed eight locations.
Sam Burnett, a senior center advocate, said seniors are worried about health care and their safety, and this program helps to alleviate those fears.
“What this is going to do is it’s going to help the seniors in the City of Toledo sincerely believe that somebody cares about their concerns and safety,” Burnett said.