Agency on aging proposes 1-mill levy

Wednesday is deadline to put issue on fall ballot

By Peter H. Milliken


The District XI Area Agency on Aging is proposing that Mahoning County commissioners place on the Nov. 8 ballot a 1-mill, five-year, countywide senior services property-tax levy that would generate about $4 million in annual revenue.

Joseph Rossi, District XI’s chief executive officer, said the matter is urgent because Wednesday is the commissioners’ deadline to put the issue on the fall ballot.

To put the levy on the fall ballot, commissioners would need to schedule a special meeting on or before Wednesday. Their next regular meeting is set for 10 a.m. next Thursday.

Rossi said the new local money is needed to compensate for a 10 percent cut in state funding this year, after a 39 percent cut the previous year, and for an unknown forthcoming drop in federal funding because of the federal financial crisis. These cuts will “almost place the entire aging network at risk,” he said Thursday.

In Mahoning County last year, a total of $10,658,534 in combined federal and state funding provided services to 4,180 elderly county residents, Rossi said.

The proposed levy would fund home-delivered and congregate meals, senior-center activities, adult day care, home care and home-repair services.

The Niles-based District XI coordinates and funds services for senior citizens in Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties. Ashtabula and Trumbull counties already have countywide senior-services levies, Rossi said.

“I really don’t know what the likelihood is” of getting a senior-services levy on the fall ballot, said John A. McNally IV, chairman of the county commissioners. McNally said he and his colleagues would have to discuss the matter further with District XI officials.

“Our congregate meal sites have been growing in Mahoning County, and I think that has a lot to do with the economy,” Rossi said.

“We have waiting lists continually growing on our nutrition programs in home-delivered meals. We have over 350 individuals awaiting home-repair services,” he said. There also are waiting lists for medical transportation and personal care, he added.

More than 200 Mahoning County residents are on the waiting list for District XI’s family caregiver support program, which helps caregivers care for their aging parents in their homes, Rossi told the commissioners.

“It’s the middle-class person that isn’t getting home-delivered meals, personal care, homemaker care” and transportation, said David Mirkin, president of Comfort Keepers of Youngstown, an agency funded by District XI to provide home care.

Those poor enough to qualify for Medicaid can be served through that program, and the wealthy can pay for services on their own, he added.

In other action, the commissioners bought a $528,086 upgrade of county jail security-system hardware and software from Black Creek Integrated Systems Corp. of Atlanta, Ga. The current system, installed when the jail opened in 1996, has exceeded its life expectancy, said Jake Williams, county information technology director.

The commissioners also passed a resolution authorizing implementation of jail inmate-management hardware and software under the management of the county’s IT department. The county received a $300,000 federal grant for that system.

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