The Press Newspaper
Oregon officials in coming weeks will be submitting proposals to council on how revenue from a levy for senior services may be used.
Oregon voters last November passed a 0.5-mill, five year operating levy for local senior services. The city this year will collect $207,000 in revenue from the levy.
“There’s still an ongoing discussion about both the capital and operations side,” said Oregon City Administrator Mike Beazley. “We’ll be talking to council members, and in the coming weeks, we’ll be bringing forward some proposals for council.”
Mayor Mike Seferian said proposals will first be provided to Councilman Terry Reeves, as chairman of the Recreation and Parks Committee, which oversees senior center matters.
“Right now, we’re going to continue operating the senior center as we have in the past. Mr. Beazley and I are checking out some of the opportunities that we may have. When we are able to pull them together, we’ll sit down and discuss it with Mr. Reeves. We’ll make sure Terry’s up to date. Then we’ll schedule a meeting to discuss what proposals we have,” said Seferian.
Although voters passed the levy by a comfortable margin, some Oregon officials thought about not collecting the revenue after it was learned that the chair of the levy campaign, who is also the president of the James “Wes” Hancock senior center, provided inaccurate information about the need for the levy in an effort to get it passed.
Bob Marquette had made claims to council, the Oregon school board and the media that a local levy was needed because the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, Inc., (AOoA) and the city had cut its funding in previous years. But figures provided to The Press from the city showed funding had not been cut to the senior center. The AOoA released records that showed it had provided fewer dollars in previous years partly due to the center’s “underperformance” in providing contracted services to seniors in 2010 and 2011. The center simply had not used all the funding allocated by the AOoA during those years.
Some were also displeased to learn that officials from the AOoA had offered the senior center the possibility of getting $250,000 to expand operations. But it was rejected by senior center officials, who wanted a local levy so that the city would have its own source of revenue for senior services, according to city officials.
The city is required to collect the revenue from the levy in 2014 because the Tax Commission certified the election results. City council could still decide to withhold the revenue in subsequent years.
Beazley said he has met with officials from the senior center, the YMCA of Greater Toledo and others to discuss proposals to fund senior programs this year.
“Obviously, as we look at the long term capital needs of Oregon, we are talking to additional partners, including some folks at the YMCA and people with major health care organizations, just exploring possible ways we can partner best as we move forward to achieve the greatest value for the taxpayers and the best possible services for the community,” said Beazley.
“There’s no rush,” said Seferian. “The worst thing we can do is make `shoot from the hip’ decisions. It’s really easy to start programs. It’s hard to deliver them and it may be really difficult to make them successful, but once you start something, it’s harder to stop it. That’s the type of thing we don’t want to do.”