BATH TOWNSHIP: The issue of whether Bath Township should have its own senior center is not going away.
And a group of seniors — Citizens for Bath Seniors (CBS) — have a launched a petition drive to convince township trustees to help the group secure a dedicated place for them to meet.
For the second time in as many months, the issue has come up before the township’s trustees.
While applauding the group’s effort, the trustees have yet to commit any money to the effort without a “mandate from township residents” for financing requested by the group.
Trustee Becky Corbett said there is a real concern about township budgeting issues.
“We don’t know in the future where we will be,” Corbett said. “Money taken from the General Fund [for the requests of the Citizens for Bath Seniors] is less money for us to subsidize the services, police, fire, etc. that we now subsidize.”
That said, Corbett added that she’s “not giving up on the senior citizens.”
Trustee Elaina Goodrich said she estimates the costs associated with a proposed senior center would be anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000 with annual expenses of $84,000 a year to keep the lights on.
Turning to the revenue side of the equation, Goodrich said the inheritance taxes that the group has indicated they would like used for this proposal is being eliminated by the state.
And on top of that lost revenue, Goodrich said, changes in the allocations of the state’s Local Government Fund will cost the township about $500,000 a year.
“I believe the best way to cover those costs would be to request a quarter-mill, five-year levy to raise approximately $100,000 a year,” she said. “I still believe that a petition request with signatures from Bath residents requesting this ballot issue is the best way for the CBS to present this issue to the trustees.”
Trustee Jim Nelson said he supports the idea of a senior group for Bath citizens.
But he said the establishment of a permanent structure or a daily activity program must be sustainable and supported by the community. He pointed to opposition 10 years ago to a proposed recreational center and recommended a petition to gauge current community attitudes.
“To launch any type of new program without a financial plan is, in my opinion, a map to failure and is irresponsible,” Nelson said.
Nelson said Richfield, which has a dedicated senior community center, has welcomed Bath residents at a cost of $15 per year. He also pointed out that meeting space is made available to the seniors by at least two facilities in the township.
“Surveys show 36.4 percent of our township is 55 years and older, and that should convert to approximately 3,300 citizens,” Nelson said. “A petition signed by half would send a clear go-ahead to me.”
CBS member Pat Hopper expressed disappointment in the trustees.
“We got just about what we figured we would … nothing,” she said. “It’s always ‘no!’ ”
Since the meeting, members have set up a table in the lobby of the Acme store in Montrose with a petition asking for signatures in support of a senior center in the township. The plan is to submit the petitions to trustees to show the community’s support for the center.
Hopper said the work of collecting signatures has been “tiring, but exhilarating.”
She said for the most part residents have been supportive of the group’s effort.
“We also had people not from Bath who wanted to sign. They kept saying this makes no sense and wanted to support this,” she said. “People were appalled that Bath Township doesn’t have a senior center and they wondered what was wrong with the trustees.
“We want the trustees to see the support we have, but most of our people think it won’t do any good,” she said. “But ignoring the signed petitions would be telling these people that their opinion doesn’t count.”