It will cost the average homeowner just over $6 for the year, but will help thousands of senior citizens, some of whom are homebound, proponents say.
The five-cent property tax on the Aug. 3 ballot was proposed by the directors of the county’s four nutrition centers to help them stabilize funding for the programs.
The tax would be on real estate only. For a home appraised at $65,000, with an assessed value of $12,350, the cost would be $6.17 for the year.
For a home appraised at $90,350, with an assessed value of $17,166, the cost would be $8.58.
Even for a high-end commercial property, appraised at $1,166,450, with an assessed value of $221,625, the cost would rise to just $1,108.
The above figures have been circulated on a flyer about the issue.
The figures were incorrectly reported in the Farmington Press in an article in its Thursday edition. The Press will not run again until after the election, so the error is being corrected in the Daily Journal.
Funding for the area’s nutrition centers has had its ups and downs, but it has been more down than up lately.
Figures from the Southeast Missouri Area on Agency, which tracks both funding and meals for the county’s senior centers, show that funding for the fiscal year 2004 was cut to near 2001 levels. The number of meals served remained relatively constant for the county’s four nutrition centers. The directors of the Bismark, Bonne Terre, Farmington and Bonne Terre centers all say they face additional cuts for the fiscal year 2005, which won’t end until June.
Costs of providing and preparing meals, meanwhile, have continued to rise. Beef prices spiked during the Mad Cow crisis, and milk prices have also hit a recent peak.
Complete funding figures and meals served at each senior center are printed in Monday’s edition of the Daily Journal, along with graphs to show the trend lines visually.
Mona Yates, the director of the Farmington senior center, believes the measure is necessary for senior centers to continue providing high quality service.
The four senior centers have provided close to 150,000 meals annually, according to figures from the Southeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging. A significant portion of those are for seniors who are homebound.
Without Meals on Wheels, Yates said, many seniors would have to enter a nursing home. The burdens on the tax payer would be far greater if that happens than if they are provided a meal that helps them stay home.
Holly Buxton, the Park Hills Senior Center director, agreed with Yates’ assessment. Rising program costs are making it hard to maintain services at the same level she said.
“We want to be able to help our homebound stay in their homes as long as possible,” Buxton said. “Without the Meals on Wheels program many would not ever have a hot, nutritious meal. Without the Meals on wheels program some would go hungry. Without the Meals on Wheels program some would have no outside contact. Our volunteers are sometimes the only people the homebound clients see. How sad to be frail and elderly and alone – this is a program that feeds the body, but it also helps to feed the soul.”