Aging funds to be cut?

By Joe Stumpe | May 30, 2019

The Sedgwick County staff has presented a 2020 budget that would cut spending on aging programs and services by 2.3 percent, from about $10.9 million to $10.7 million.

It’s unclear what, if any, programs would be affected. About half the reduction would be the result of personnel turnover and a one-time bonus pool that employees had this year but that will not be available next year. 

The rest is based on estimates of federal funds that Sedgwick County receives through the Older Americans Act.

It’s possible that the county’s aging services budget will be increased as the county commission works through its budget process this summer. Residents are invited to speak to the commission on July 24 and Aug. 5. 

At the commission’s May 13 budget hearing, Commissioner Jim Howell called for more money for certain aging programs, including:

•$66,000 to reduce the waiting list for Meals on Wheels, which delivers meals to homebound elderly and disabled people.

•$46,800 to reduce the waiting list for a wheelchair repair program.

•$30,000 that Howell says is needed to keep the Oaklawn senior center open.

•$17,628 for senior centers in Haysville, Mulvane, Park City and Valley Center.

Howell also said it’s time for the county to generate more money through the aging mill levy approved by voters in 1982. That vote authorized commissioners to levy up to 1 mill to help pay for aging services. The county currently collects less than half of that, in effect leaving several million dollars on the table.

Howell also said the county’s Aging Advisory Council should have a bigger say in how that money is spent, rather than commissioners “politically” debating the question each year. The council is made up of senior citizens appointed by commissioners.