A half-dozen residents encouraged Sedgwick County commissioners to boost small-town centers that serve elderly people.
They asked the county to provide more money to senior centers in Haysville, Bel Aire, Clearwater and Mulvane.
“Seniors are our most valuable asset in any community,” said Mulvane Senior Center director Jeri Myers. “They are the backbone of our community. You can’t have a future without a past.”
“Keeping seniors in their homes to remain independent is my main goal,” she added. “With the extra funds, I can make that happen.”
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The county’s aging division would receive $10.2 million under the recommended budget being considered by Sedgwick County commissioners. About $3.8 million would go to community-based services that allow seniors to stay in their homes, like senior centers, nutritional programs, Meals on Wheels and adult day care, said Tim Kaufman, assistant county manager for public services.
Senior centers around the county provide meals as well as programs, services, classes and presentations to improve seniors’ fitness, diet, mental and physical health.
The county’s aging advisory council recommended a $73,000 increase in funding to senior centers in Haysville, Bel Aire, Clearwater and Mulvane. Those centers provide enough services to qualify for another level of county support under a funding formula.
But county staff did not include the proposal in the recommended budget, which will be considered by commissioners on Wednesday. The extra funds could be used by senior centers as they choose, Kaufman said.
Bel Aire Senior Center director Jennie Benitez and Haysville Senior Center Director Kim Landers said additional money could fund more travel and trips for seniors in their towns.
“All of these experiences help increase the quality of life that our seniors deserve and that we are ourselves hope to enjoy in the golden years,” Landers said.
Jim Burgess, who sits on the advisory council, criticized a drop in county funding for senior centers “while the number of senior citizens has increased.”
“We are consistently told that no funds are available,” Burgess told commissioners. “Funds are always available…You are the ones that hold the keys to the kingdom.”