Funding Weirton Senior Center

Weirton City Council members were told last Wednesday that the senior citizens center serving the community needs help. Surely there is some way to provide the relatively modest subsidy required.

Important assistance including recreation and a meals program for older Weirton residents are provided by the center. Allowing those services to go away should not be considered an option.

Chuck Svokas, chairman of the center’s board of directors, told council members the facility has been struggling financially “for some time.” Spending cuts have helped, but are not adequate to make ends meet. The center lost about $6,000 during the most recently ended fiscal year, Svokas said.

He acknowledged the Hancock County Commission is helping, with assistance of between $10,000 and $15,000 a year. Weirton city officials have pitched in, too, helping with funding for the center building.

Still, to maintain its operations, the center needs new revenue of about $25,000 a year, council members were told.

Senior center officials seem willing to do their part. At one time, bingo games raised as much as $29,000 a year, center board member Arden Ford noted. That source of income has all but dried up, with the last attempt at running bingo games netting only about $1,000 in a month.

One suggestion by Mayor Harold Miller may be worth consideration. During last Wednesday’s meeting, he suggested a property tax levy to support causes such as senior services, public transportation and the library might prove acceptable to voters.

That would require some changes. Among them, the center would have to be folded into Weirton municipal government.

While independence of the kind the center enjoys now can be a good thing, survival is the priority now. If it means the possibility of new revenue through a levy, center officials may want to consider the idea.

Local residents have a tradition of voting in favor of levies to support worthy causes such as those cited by Miller. Just last fall, Brooke County voters renewed a levy that provides money for a variety of purposes, ranging from ambulance service to senior citizens programs.

Both council members and those on the senior center board should consider Miller’s idea. It could be the lifeline needed to continue providing services to older residents of Weirton.

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