Senior levy up for renewal

0.75-mill tax raises $2.4M per year; funds go to services, centers

WARREN — The levy that provides funds for services for people 60 and older with a myriad of at-home and community-oriented programs is up for renewal Nov. 5.

Voters in Trumbull County will be presented with the option to support the renewal of the 0.75-mill, five-year levy. The levy raises about $2.4 million annually and costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $1.19 per month, said Diane Siskowic-Jurkovic, Trumbull County senior levy administrator. That comes out to less than $25 per year.

Only $100,000 of collected levy money goes toward administrative costs. The other funds pay for the services used by people 60 and older, Siskowic-Jurkovic said. The $100,000 pays for Siskowic-Jurkovic, office supplies and a part-time employee who goes around the county performing welfare checks on older people, investigating complaints and connecting seniors and their families to the right services to handle a problem.

An 11-person board appointed by Trumbull County commissioners makes recommendations to commissioners on how to spend the money over the course of public meetings.

In the last fiscal year, $270,000 was spent on adult protective services. And $885,000 was spent on personal and house-based services, like adult daycare, household chores, personal care, homemaker services and home-delivered meals. Senior centers in Farmington, Girard, Johnston, Warren, Niles, Howland, Lordstown, Cortland, Champion and McDonald received $635,000 in funds from the levy.

The county is aging, Siskowic-Jurkovic said.

“We’ve increased our senior population, but our youth isn’t staying to help. For those that are here to fend for themselves, we are here to fill the gap in basic needs,” Siskowic-Jurkovic said. “This is not a luxury levy; this is a basic-needs levy.”

Siskowic-Jurkovic said the services are to help people stay in their homes, mostly independently, for longer.

It is estimated that by 2020, there will be 57,000 people 60 or older in Trumbull County, a 25 percent increase since 2010, according to numbers Siskowic-Jurkovic supplied from the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University.

That means seniors make up about 20 percent of the county’s population.

Ensuring that population can maintain a social life and obtain basic services can keep people happy and healthy for a longer time in their own homes. When someone misses out on the chance to socialize at the senior center or get a ride to take care of a medical appointment, it can lead to cycles of depression and ill health, that in turn can lead to more intense — and more expensive — care in the future, Siskowic-Jurkovic said.

“We want to keep our seniors healthy, safe and mobile,” Siskowic-Jurkovic said.

About $500,000 of the levy money was used this fiscal year for six months’ worth of transportation services. Rather than turning over about $425,000 in levy money to the Trumbull County Transit Board in 2019 like in previous years, the Trumbull County Senior Levy Advisory Council recommended the levy fund transportation for seniors in a different way.

Siskowic-Jurkovic and members of the senior levy advisory council’s transportation committee decided the way the senior levy money was being spent by the transit board wasn’t guaranteeing the best transportation services for seniors. So, instead of simply transferring the money over to the board, the council called for bids.

The senior levy advisory council members said seniors had too many complaints with the old system, were often put on a waiting list and they had trouble verifying some aspects of services. Under the new contracts, rides are now fare-free.

“The greatest generations make up our senior citizen population. We owe it to Trumbull County senior citizens to continue providing needed services with the senior levy. I assure you that the funds are being spent responsibly, and with meticulous oversight. We have an excellent council, administrator and service providers to ensure continued operational success,” senior levy advisory council member Niki Frenchko said.

After submitting bids, All American USA Taxi Inc., Garwin Inc., Country Neighbor and Comfort Care-a-Van were selected, and funds were allocated to the companies.

Seniors can call Comfort Care-A-Van, 330-744-4145, for wheelchair trips or any other trip over 10 miles; All American USA Taxi, 330-395-3226, for non-wheelchair rides 10 miles or less; Country Neighbor, 440-437-6311, for any trip originating in the northern tier of the county; and Garwin, 330-534-1335, for non-wheelchair rides 10 miles or less.

Applications to use the service are available by emailing the administrator at SLJurkov@co.trumbull.oh.us, or online at http://seniorlevyservice. co.trumbull.oh.us. They also can be picked up at Trumbull County SCOPE Centers in Warren, Howland, Champion, Cortland, Lordstown and Niles.

Early voting is underway.