Fulton County

Fine may doom Gloversville senior center

The financially struggling Senior Citizens Service Center of Gloversville & Fulton County has been h

The financially struggling Senior Citizens Service Center of Gloversville & Fulton County has been hit by a $228,000 fine for failing to maintain workers’ compensation insurance, according to court records.

The state Workers’ Compensation Board won the default judgment in state Supreme Court in Fulton County. The order was signed Aug. 27.

The center’s executive director, Catherine Mueller, was shocked to learn of the fine when contacted Wednesday. She said, if true, the center would have to close its doors, as it does not have the money to pay the fine.

“Something like this would close this down,” she said.

The center, which marked its 10th anniversary in June, is fighting for survival. It has seen its annual budget decline from $122,000 to $88,000 as traditional sources of funding have dried up.

Mueller said the city of Gloversville used to provide $30,000 annually, but stopped making a contribution in 2004. To help remain viable, the center has cut operating expenses “to the bone,” from $6,000 a month in 2011 to about $4,500 a month this year, Mueller said.

An official with the Workers’ Compensation Board said the fine is a last resort in the effort to make organizations comply with the law and that there is a possibility of reducing the fine. The official did not want to be identified because the board currently has no public information officer.

The official referred to a statement Neil Gilberg, the board’s advocate for business, said regarding penalties: “If you get a penalty, call my office for help. Don’t ignore it. Our goal is compliance, not revenue.”

Under state law, employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance. The senior citizens center has not carried the insurance since 2008, according to state records.

The insurance protects workers who are injured on the job, covering medical bills and compensating for lost wages. Without the insurance, business owners are directly reliable for those costs, according to the board’s website.

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