Council on Aging tax to be on ballot

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 23, 2008

VIDALIA — Voters in Concordia Parish will decide Nov. 4 if they will pass a tax to help fund the Concordia Parish Council on Aging.

The Concordia Parish Police Jury placed the 4-mil tax on the ballot at the behest of the Council on Aging. Director Dorothy McDonald said, due to budget cuts and cost increases, the Council on Aging has had to scale back services and even lay off workers in the last two years.

“If the tax does not pass, we will continue not being able to serve the entire parish,” she said. “We have a long waiting list for the home-delivered meals, and we will not be able to get our transportation back to where it was before the gas prices got so high.”

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The proposal is for a property tax, so homestead exemption will apply and it will not affect anyone whose property is worth less than $75,000.

In real terms, the tax will essentially come to a cost of $4 for every $1,000 tax dollars you pay, McDonald said.

The tax is expected to generate $400,000, which will nearly double the council’s budget, McDonald said.

The council receives some of its funding through state and federal sources, as well as a small percentage of the parish road tax, but the state has cut the council’s funding down to nearly nothing and may not give it any next year, Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington said.

“I really don’t see how they’re doing what they are with the money they are operating on now,” Ferrington said.

Under the scaled-back operations, the council is only able to serve the Vidalia-Clayton corridor and a small portion of Monterey.

Some of the services they offer include hot meal deliveries to home-bound seniors and transportation to meals at their two congregate sites in Vidalia and Ferriday.

Other transportation services the council provided had to be reduced under their current budget crunch, and two of the three routes had to be consolidated.

“We don’t have time for the drivers to take them to the grocery store and doctors or other things we were able to provide,” McDonald said.

Other services the council hopes to be able to expand with the rejuvenated funding include caregiver relief, where a sitter is provided for a few hours to allow the primary caregiver of an invalid a chance to do something else, and the limited homemaker service, in which someone goes in and helps a citizen with limited mobility do light housekeeping, McDonald said.