Page 19 - Senior Times July 2018 - 25-07
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CALHOUN COUNTY SENIOR MILLAGE HISTORYIn November of 1996, the voters of Calhoun County approved up to .75 millage levy to fund assessment, coordination, and services for resi- dents aged 60 and over in Calhoun County. The Calhoun County Board of Commissioners appointed a com- mittee of citizens known as the Senior Millage Allocation Committee (SMAC) whose role was to review proposals from providers, assess the needs of seniors in the communi-ty, and recommend allocations for Senior Millage funding of services for seniors. SMAC is comprised of 13 volunteers who serve three-year terms including two to three County Commissioners.SMAC meets the first Friday of most months. SMAC meetings are open to the public.Initial Senior Millage-funding awards were made in June 1997 and included support for home-delivered meals, personal care, homemaking, and respite care. In October of 1997, information and assistance, transporta- tion, guardianship services, case man- agement, chore services, specialized respite, congregate meals, health and wellness, dental services, and pre- scriptions were added. Over the next several years, services were expanded, based on provider requests, to legal services, personal emergency response system, adult day care, and other programs. In 2017, Senior Millage- funded programs helped almost 6,000 seniors county-wide while organizing and sponsoring 10 special events for seniors. In 2018, Senior Millage is funding 21 programs administered by 11 trusted and accountable nonprofit organizations.Initially, the Area Agency on Aging also known as Burnham Brook was designated to provide administrative services to the allocation commit-tee. In February 1999, the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners established the Office of Senior Services to administer Senior Millage funds.Senior Millage-funded programs provide services to meet the needsof seniors that cannot be met bythe resources of the individual, the senior’s family, volunteers, and char- itable organizations or through other State and Federal programs. Most Senior Millage funding is distributed through a Request for Proposal (RFP)system through the County Purchasing Department. Funding is available to new programs through applications for Program Grants and Mini-Grants. Some programs serve all seniors regardless of income, and some pro- grams are targeted to serve those with incomes at or below the 200% of poverty as determined annually by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.Senior Millage-funded services are mostly provided free of charge, some programs encourage a cost share, which helps funding go far- ther. Each program has its own guidelines and follows a minimum service standard approved by the SMAC, which is incorporated into the contracts for each program.In 2017, the Senior Millage raised approximately $2.5 million in tax funding each year to fund programs to fill gaps in available services to help seniors solve life’s problemsand promote health, safety, and well- ness. Calhoun Senior Services also receives a Payment in Lieu of Taxes from Firekeepers Casino each year of approximately $60,000 and an alloca- tion of the State’s Personal Property Tax reimbursement.Initially passed in 1996, the Senior Millage was renewed by voters in November 2000 at a level of .7473 mills. In the subsequent year, the Board of Commissioners approved the implementation of a senior dis- count program for prescriptions. The program was immensely popular asit filled a significant need for seniors. The Prescription Discount Card was discontinued when it was no longer needed after the U.S. Congress cre- ated Medicare Part D to help people pay for prescription drugs, which took effect in January 2006. Senior Millage still funds a Prescription Assistance Program through the Fountain Clinic to help low-income seniors with the high costs of filling prescriptions.The Senior Millage was renewed by overwhelming majorities in 2006 and 2010. The Senior Millage is schedule to be renewed by vote of the people of Calhoun County again in 2020. Senior Millage funds important programs that help seniors solve life problems.Helen Guzzo, MSW, is the Manager of Calhoun County Senior Services, which funds a variety of services for residents age 60 and over with Senior Millage tax dollars. 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