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Senior services in funding pinch
County helps offset sting of sequestration
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Forsyth County News

Funding for Forsyth County senior services took two cuts due to the recent federal sequestration.

The federal and state money comes to the program through Legacy Link, an agency designated by the state Department of Human Services.

The sequestration cuts in July and November reduced the county’s senior services funding by about $74,500, said director Michael Bohn.

“The hardest hit programs were our congregate meals program, the meals that we provide at the senior center, and the home-delivered meals program, which $53,000 was reduced,” Bohn told county commissioners during their work session Tuesday.

Some seniors wouldn’t have received those meals in October and November, he said, if the county government hadn’t “picked up the tab” of about $1,000.

Bohn expected the cuts will affect senior services more in 2014, based on the way it receives funding. To offset the reduction, he said a grant from Coordinated Transportation will bring in about $9,000 each month through June 30.

Bohn said he would return to the commission in May with more information about state and federal funding for their next fiscal years, which run from July 1 to June 30.

Also on Tuesday, the commission agreed in a 5-0 vote to release nearly $1 million in funding from the previous round of the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST VI, for an addition on the Sexton Hall Enrichment Center. The facility was funded through the sales tax program but without using its whole budget.

The 3,000-square-foot expansion would create a senior community center in south Forsyth that has more traditional services such as those available at Charles Place, Bohn said.

Forsyth’s population of residents 60 and older is expected to increase about 75 percent between 2010 and 2020, from nearly 24,000 to 42,000, he said.

“Now that they’re here, there are some expectations regarding basic services,” Bohn said. “If nothing is done, and we just remain at Charles Place, we won’t be able to service everybody, all the numbers, and the geographics, the way the county is set up.”

The addition will also add to the operational budget, estimated at about $200,000 for staff and three more buses.

“Sounds like a worthwhile project,” Chairman Pete Amos said.