Schenectady County

Senior services provider fears cut in Schenectady County funding

A major provider of services to senior citizens in Schenectady County is worried the county may cut

A major provider of services to senior citizens in Schenectady County is worried the county may cut them because of its fiscal problems.

The county pays an additional $1.1 million more toward these programs, considered non-mandated but essential, than is required under federal and state matching requirements.

John Steele, executive director of the Catholic Charities of Schenectady County, shared his concerns during a public hearing today. About 20 people attended, most of them representing service providers.

The Schenectady County Department of Senior and Long Term Care Services sponsored the hearing, a federal and state requirement as part of the department’s development of its four-year service plan.

“You can see that the county is having fiscal issues. The concern I have as a major provider is cutbacks in funding for what we consider essential services,” Steele said. “The bottom line is, how do we protect services?”

Catholic Charities receives about $1 million under contracts with the county to provide congregate and home-delivered meals and transportation services, as well as other programs. Its allocation is nearly one-third of the $3.4 million the county proposes to spend in 2008 for programs and services to assist the county’s large population of people ages 60 and older.

Steele said the county’s allocation is the same it spent in 2007. Meanwhile, he said, Catholic Charities is not receiving an increase in county funding, despite seeing its fuel and food costs increase.

Steele said Catholic Charities actually had to reduce staff in 2007 because it lost $46,000 providing case management assistance to senior citizens under the county contract.

“We are doing more with less,” Steele said. “We have adapted to that loss and we are working with the county to find more efficient ways to provide essential services.”

Schenectady County officials said the county is facing a revenue shortfall of between $12 million and $16 million going into the 2009 budget process. They plan to review all programs and services, especially non-mandated services such as those provided to senior citizens and youths, to find ways to reduce costs and balance the budget without excessive tax increases.

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