Glenwood Springs councilors put off voting on senior services for time being |

Glenwood Springs councilors put off voting on senior services for time being

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The City Council decided not to vote on an agreement Thursday night that maps out a plan to continue senior services in Garfield County.

Councilors said they do support continuing the services, but they didn’t have enough time to review the documents and the agreement wasn’t specific enough. Some expressed concerns about how much funding Glenwood Springs would be required to contribute in the future and that the county would have the ultimate legal authority.

Glenwood Springs officials previously raised the possibility of a county-wide tax to fund senior services.

The decision not to vote shouldn’t harm senior programs.

Garfield County Commissioner John Martin told the City Council, “The county has stepped forward and guaranteed that the programs will go on for the rest of the year. … We’d like to see you at least there as a partner.”

Under the agreement, the county would officially take over administration of senior transportation and senior meals July 1. The Retired Seniors Volunteer Program would remain under Colorado Mountain College’s administration. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority would provide senior transportation by contract with the county.

Rifle and Silt have already signed the agreement, said Rifle City Manager John Hier.

CMC ran senior programs for about 30 years but said in June 2007 it wouldn’t continue providing them all. CMC said the programs did not fit the college’s mission and CMC couldn’t keep providing senior services in Garfield County that it doesn’t in other counties because it’s unfair to taxpayers.

The decision at first caused some concern the services could be jeopardized or interrupted. A work group has met since about August to determine the best course of action for the senior programs. The county agreed in March to run two of the three programs. Cities would kick in a share of funding proportionate to the amount of senior services provided in their communities.

The programs would cost almost $200,000 to fund through the end of the year.

Garfield County would pay almost $140,000 and Glenwood Springs would chip in about $33,647. Other cities would contribute less, since Glenwood dishes up the most senior meals and rides.

The business plan calls for communities to come together annually to decide how to continue financing programs beyond the first six months.

Councilor Dave Sturges recommended not voting on the agreement Thursday night and other councilors agreed.

“There are very big things that need to be resolved both in the legal niceties and in the concepts. I don’t have any comfort in voting to agree to agree,” he said.

Martin said Glenwood could still participate even if financing was an issue, and the city could decide to stop participating any time in the future.

Councilor Russ Arensman questioned the role of an advisory board that would oversee the programs. He said he was hearing from Martin that it would be able to make decisions, but the agreement seems to say it’s strictly advisory and county commissioners would be in control.

Martin said the county must have legal authority to make final decisions due to budgeting laws.

Arensman said he’s concerned Glenwood would be contributing about 18 percent of the funding and would only have about a 10 percent or less voting representation on the advisory board.

Mayor Bruce Christensen said he’s concerned the demand for senior transportation seems to be split evenly between eastern and western Garfield County, but the proposed budget has the eastern county cities of Glenwood and Carbondale contributing well over half the funding. He also said he has a problem with funding another transportation system when the city already spends over $3 million a year on the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and Ride Glenwood.

Mildred Alsdorf, co-director of senior programs, encouraged councilors to pass along their specific questions and concerns so they can be addressed as soon as possible.

“We’re telling seniors nothing’s going to change, but every time they hear or think of something negative it upsets their lives,” she said.

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