Senior Center Transition Team moves forward

By Liz Hicker

A meeting of the Transition Team convened at the Olequa Senior Center in Winlock on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 1:00 p.m. where a presentation titled "Understanding Lewis County Senior Programs and Aging in America" was given by Glenda Forga, who has been appointed by the County Commissioners to head the team.

Questions posed to the Commissioners at a meeting held on Feb. 1 didn't elicit the information the team was hoping for, and Forga said she would again approach the commissioners for specific financial information per center. All agreed it is very important to ascertain each center's actual budget and determine the future expenses facing each center.

Discussion followed on the topic of the formation of three main subcommittees to aid in the transition.

The first of these will focus on taxation for the senior centers in the case they are no longer covered by the county or under the umbrella of a single 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It was brought up that a new bill is presently in the Legislature, House Bill 1526, which would exempt multipurpose senior citizen centers from property taxation. If adopted, this will be an added relief to the Lewis County dilemma, along with the rest of the state.

The second subcommittee will explore the possibility of each center operating as an independent nonprofit and the possibility of securing future funding through grants and other sources.

A third subcommittee will work to either develop a business plan for each center if they are to become independent, or on forming a new blanket organization to cover all five centers, helping to allocate financial assistance to each center through grants, donations, and/or from other federal or state sources. Each center would be responsible to continue contributing a percentage of their financial costs, which each center has already been doing for years.

The next meeting of the Transition Team is scheduled for March 1 at the Morton Senior Center at1:00 p.m.