Senior programs in Garfield County to continue unchanged
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Although the city of Glenwood Springs is not participating in an intergovernmental agreement at this time to fund senior programs for the rest of 2008, no changes will be made to the programs, and seniors can expect to see the same services as always.The future of the three programs – Senior Nutrition, The Traveler and RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) – was uncertain after Colorado Mountain College announced last year that it would no longer be in charge of the programs. Since then, CMC has agreed to continue the RSVP program, but the Traveler and Senior Nutrition programs would be administered by the county and supported by the municipalities they served.A task force was formed between CMC, the county and representatives from the various municipalities to determine the future of the senior programs. All wanted the programs to continue – but how it would be funded and administered was the question.After several meetings, an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) was circulated earlier this summer to Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Silt, Parachute, Rifle, Garfield County and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. As of July, each jurisdiction was to sign and agree to pay their portion of the contribution to help fund the senior programs based on the level of service that was provided in their areas.However, Glenwood Springs did not sign the IGA, stating that they had questions and concerns and had not been informed of the details in the agreement.”The council feels further details are needed about the roles and responsibilities of the parties to the agreement, future obligations and the development of a long-term stable funding source to create a sustainable program for seniors in Garfield County,” Glenwood Springs Mayor Bruce Christensen wrote in a letter to Garfield County Commissioner John Martin in late July.Christensen said Glenwood’s concerns included a hope that an advisory board would be established to have more authority over the administration of the programs; that there would be further research regarding the ridership numbers on The Traveler bus; and that there be a more stable, long-term funding source for the programs, which may include a tax-supported source.”We’re hoping all of the communities – including the county – will come up with a permanent funding source,” Christensen said.Discussions with Garfield County, RifleGlenwood Springs is currently in discussions with the city of Rifle, according to Rifle City Manager John Hier.”We believe that every community has approved (the IGA) in concept at least,” Hier said.One of the reasons Rifle may be urging Glenwood to participate and contribute might be that other municipalities may have to pick up the slack if they don’t, according to Garfield County Manager Ed Green.”If Glenwood Springs doesn’t participate in the long run, then the other communities have to decide what level of service they want to provide to Glenwood Springs or suck it up and pay (Glenwood’s) portion,” Green said.Glenwood funds ready, but meanwhile CMC will pick up the slackHowever, Glenwood Springs says it has the funds and is ready to make a contribution once the details of the IGA are hammered out. But the county must apply for those funds through a grant process.”We have the funds set aside,” Christensen said. “It’s a discretionary human services fund and something we weren’t really prepared for. But our real concern is the seniors. We’ve never said we wouldn’t participate.”In the meantime, Colorado Mountain College has agreed to pick up Glenwood Springs’ share of the tab for the rest of 2008 – to the tune of about $23,000.”We’ve agreed to do it because we committed to making this a seamless transition with no interruption in (senior) services,” said Lin Stickler, executive vice president of CMC. “We’re confident Glenwood Springs will still be on board, but until then we wanted to make sure there were no bumps in the road.”The county submitted two grant applications last week to the city of Glenwood Springs for The Traveler and the Senior Nutrition Program.For now, the funding is in place through Dec. 31, 2008. “For 2008, Colorado Mountain College will cover the city of Glenwood Springs’ share of the cost breakdown in order to assure that services are maintained within each jurisdiction,” a city of Rifle memo reported. “In 2009, services may be redistributed based on participation commitments within each municipality.”As it stands now, senior services are covered and will be provided as they always have been.
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