Discussion Continues Over Senior Services in Downtown Windsor – Smithfield Times
At its regular meeting in April, Windsor City Council heard recommendations from the Downtown Windsor Advisory Council on how best to respond to proposals from three groups regarding downtown seniors programs.
The recommendations generated further discussion and a few questions from council members.
Windsor City Manager William Saunders shared information about the proposals at the March 8 council meeting, noting that one of the groups making a proposal was Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia (SSSEVA), an organization private nonprofit and the Regional Agency on Aging in South Hampton. Roads which supports and enriches the lives of seniors and their families through advocacy, education, information and comprehensive services.
In an April 12 staff report, Saunders listed the advisory board’s recommended revisions to the draft memorandum of understanding between the city and SSSEVA.
The council recommended that SSSEVA programs take place downtown Monday through Thursday and end at 1:45 p.m. due to cars piling up in front of the center by parents picking up children after the school, the school day ending at 2 p.m.: 25 p.m.
The advisory board recommended being flexible and accommodating for senior programs wherever possible when planning events and using the many areas available at the facility to accommodate different activities simultaneously; however, sometimes city rentals and/or specific planned parks and recreation or county activities may conflict with seniors programs.
The board recommended that the center’s Arrowhead meeting room be the primary venue for senior program activities, with the gym, art room and lounge being used as secondary and alternate venues if necessary.
Next, the advisory board recommended that all parties to the agreement meet between 12 and 18 months after the execution of the agreement to determine if changes to the terms are necessary.
Saunders also noted in the staff report that the city attorney recommended that termination of the agreement could only occur after the parties provided 30 days written notice.
Listed under “Other Considerations,” Saunders wrote that the Downtown Windsor Advisory Council had not made a recommendation as to whether SSSEVA should pay rental fees for normal programming and/or reservations. special events; however, council discussed concerns over a planned increase in spending for utilities and professional services – such as cleaning, maintenance, etc. – with the additional use of the facility.
In Saunders’ absence from the April 12 city council meeting, Windsor Police Chief Rodney “Dan” Riddle presented council’s recommended revisions, reading them, then opening the floor to council to to review the draft revised MOU.
Windsor Mayor Glyn T. Willis said he had discussed with Saunders the possibility of offering senior services programs outside of the defined Monday-Thursday period.
“We don’t have anything specific in the MOU about that, about what the accommodations would be for that if senior services wanted to do something outside of their normal time window and if there would be or no fees associated with it,” he said.
Councilman Walter Bernacki said he knocked on doors in the community, showing citizens the proposed memorandum of understanding and asking for their input. Two questions emerged from these conversations that citizens wanted answered before the signing of the memorandum of understanding.
If services for seniors were offered outside of the stated parameters, it would represent an additional expense and as such, citizens wanted to know the details of the charges.
Additionally, Bernacki noted that the proposed memorandum of understanding says something about the city adding Senior Services as an additional insured party on its insurance policy.
“I know some insurance companies, when you add additional insureds, add an extra cost to your insurance policy for that,” Bernacki said. “Is this something that has been budgeted or budgeted for in the upcoming budget, to cover this?”
Councilor Kelly Blankenship expressed concern about treating nonprofits differently from each other in terms of fees.
She said she didn’t think the Woman’s Club of Windsor would appreciate having to pay to have their craft fair downtown “when we’re going to turn around and give it to somebody else for free, and they are both the same type of organization.”
She asked Windsor City Attorney Fred Taylor what position the city would put itself in by raising different rates.
Taylor replied, “Mr. Saunders and I actually had discussions about that, and I guess at least procedurally, we anticipated that I might be answering a few questions in camera about that, sort of to give you specific legal advice.
Willis has agreed to handle this discussion behind closed doors.
City Treasurer Cheryl McClanahan suggested that a short-term way to manage the extra expenses at the center could be American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.
“At least for the next two years, we can use some of the money from ARPA to help fund downtown to pay those utility bills and everything,” she said. . “It’s like lost revenue because we let Senior Services use it.”
Southeast Virginia Senior Services CEO Steve Zollos was present at the April 12 meeting and briefly addressed the board during their discussion.
“I understand that you all have decisions to make regarding downtown, and whatever you decide is fine with us,” he said. “As a perspective, I encourage you to look at what we bring in as in-kind payment with staff, meals, professionals who come in and serve the elderly as well – these are all expenses we incur in order to provide a free service to residents of Windsor.
Blankenship said the city needs to be aware that program participants will not only be Windsor residents, but county residents as well.
“Personally, I pay a lot more money to the county than I pay to the city,” she said, “and the question we have to ask ourselves is, ‘The city’s small budget can- it and does it have to absorb the expense of providing that service to 10% of the county’s population, so that’s something to consider.
Additionally, given that the town has a pre-existing memorandum of understanding with the county, Blankenship said she wanted to know if the town had the support of the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors to enter into this memorandum of understanding. agreement with SSSEVA.
“I don’t know if we know what the county’s plans were or are for the expansion of parks and recreation services in this facility,” he said. “So we are now entering into an agreement that will reduce the window of opportunity for them in terms of the types of services that they can bring to the table because we have removed those four days. If that’s a decision we all want to make, great, but what I don’t want is to jeopardize our relationship with the county, and so I feel like we shouldn’t vote in this subject until we have approval, which the Board of Supervisors say they favor this use of the facility to the possible detriment of the growth of Parks and Rec.
Willis assured Zollos that the city would do some arranging work for senior services programs.
“It’s just going through everything to make sure we understand how this is going to work successfully for us,” he said.