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Editorial: Let Gloversville senior center live

Editorial: Let Gloversville senior center live

State Workers Compensation Board should show it some compassion

Gloversville’s senior citizens center has been on the financial ropes for quite a while. In fact it was all set to close last June over its $88,000 mortgage. It got bailed out when the YMCA’s closure resulted in a gift of $62,000, but this time the news is even worse: The state just fined it $228,000 for failing to pay its workers’ compensation insurance premiums over a four-year period.

A fine of that magnitude would surely force the center, which serves roughly 200 of the depressed city’s elderly weekly, out of business. So the state should cut it some slack.

The 10-year-old private, nonprofit center has absorbed one financial hit after another — typical for a service organization in a tough economy. First the city of Gloversville stopped lending a hand — $30,000 annually — then the county pulled its meals program. Center management has responded with budget cut after budget cut. OK, except that one of those cuts was for (mandatory) workers compensation insurance coverage for the center’s few remaining part-time workers. Or so the state Workers Compensation Board alleged, and recently won a default judgment against the center in the amount of $228,000.

The center’s executive director and board president claim to have heard nothing about the problem until a reporter informed them about it last week. (Maybe they had a “senior moment” and forgot to pay?) In any case, they’re scrambling to work out a settlement with the state that will allow them to stay in business.

That would be a good thing because the organization provides needed services to the city’s considerable senior population — activities that allow them to stay socialized, fed, educated, etc.

The missed premiums — which may be traced to a switch in insurance agencies “four or five years ago” — amount to roughly $1,100 per year. They should be made up, but if the center continues to pay them on a regular basis for the following year, the state should forgive the penalty.

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