Rifle keen on continued support of senior meals program despite funding unknowns
Rifle’s senior meals program is at risk of losing funding.
The city might have to allocate an additional $57,305 in meal costs that weren’t originally budgeted for, because some grant funding typically provided through the county is up in the air.
Rifle Senior Center Director Tami Sours told the Rifle County Council during a workshop Wednesday the county is still awaiting potential grants from the Area Agency on Aging, a nonprofit agency that addresses the needs and concerns of older people.
Since 2009, Rifle has shared operational and administrative costs through a multi-party, intergovernmental contract county that offers senior meals and transportation services.
Between July 2019 and June 2020, Rifle paid $121,745 to the county to run The Traveler, a transportation service offered by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. The municipalities of Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, New Castle and Silt all agreed to pay a total of $296,712 for senior transportation services.
Between the county and all cities in the multi-party contract, they paid $549,826 to RFTA for The Traveler.
Municipalities, however, were not asked to cover costs for meals. That means Rifle paid nothing for the 6,420 meals served to Rifle seniors between July 2019 and June 2020.
Now, since the county is still waiting to receive grants, Rifle might have to contribute $145,169 in nutrition and transportation costs for the 2022 contract.
“We probably don’t have much of a choice,” Sours said. “It’s a giant contract for transportation and senior meals, so if we hold out on our senior meals program, we’d lose out on our transportation.”
The potential bill would be more had it not been for Rifle’s push to successfully decrease costs of The Travel to less than $100,000. Earlier this year the city set out to cut costs by consolidating trips as well as reducing duration and length of the trips.
If the county does get a grant in time, it will help defray costs.
Regardless of the increased costs, Rifle City Council expressed continued support for the senior meals program.
“We’re not going to stop doing it,” Council member Clint Hostettler said. “We’ve got to budget it.”
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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