On May 2, 2006, Washington County voters voted in favor of renewing our senior services levy. The levy was for five years and is set to expire at the end of 2011. On Nov. 8, voters will be asked once again to replace the senior services levy so that important services can continue. The millage does not change. It remains at 0.85 mills. What does that mean in terms of cost to individual taxpayers? For a homeowner with a house valued at $100,000 it is only $29.75 per year. That is only $0.57 per week, less than a pack of gum, or a cup of coffee.
The levy is administered by the Washington County commissioners and provides necessary funding for vital services like meals on wheels and medical transportation for seniors.
The senior services levy makes it possible for seniors to receive the services they need to remain healthy and independent for as long as possible. Home bound and frail seniors receive "meals on wheels", transportation to medical appointments and help with household chores. The senior levy has made it possible for thousands of Washington County seniors to receive their prescription medications for free or at very low cost. Proper nutrition in older adults is also essential to maintain good health. In the last five years, 65,703 meals were served at senior dining centers located in Belpre, Beverly, Layman, Lower Salem, Marietta, and New Matamoras. The senior services levy made it possible to open the senior dining centers in Layman and Belpre. For various reasons, many seniors are unable to leave their homes or to prepare their own meals. The senior services levy made it possible to deliver 69,498 hot, nutritious "meals on wheels" to hundreds of older residents throughout the county. These seniors look forward to that daily knock on the door and the driver's friendly face. For some, it is their only connection to the outside world.
All the expert medical care in the world is useless if you can't get there. The senior services levy made it possible for hundreds of older adults to access the medical care and services they needed. Specially equipped vehicles can accommodate wheelchairs, and drivers are trained to assist people with special needs - 39,744 medical trips were completed.
Sometimes, the most basic help can mean the difference between remaining at home and moving to more costly assisted living or a nursing facility. Simple interventions such as grocery shopping, cleaning, providing help with the laundry, or meal preparation make it possible for older adults to continue to live where they prefer - in their own homes. Because of the levy, 34,641 hours of in-home help was provided. For many seniors, dedicated family and friends provide needed help on a regular basis. Providing care to a loved one can be a very rewarding experience. It can also be tiresome and stressful for family members who must often balance other family and work obligations with their caregiving responsibilities. Our levy made it possible for many older adults to attend the adult daycare program. In fact, 19,325 days of care were delivered. This service provides a needed break for the caregiver as well as social interaction, nutritious meals, help with showers and personal care, daily medication dispensing and nursing oversight for the senior.
Older adults have something special to give. Through their varied life experiences they have acquired skills and knowledge that can benefit our communities and our citizens. The senior services levy provided support for the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program which recruits and places active senior volunteers with organizations that are making a difference in our communities and our citizens lives.
The senior services levy has also provided funds for the development of community senior centers throughout Washington County. Senior groups in Barlow, Bartlett, Belpre, Beverly, Churchtown, Independence Township, Little Hocking, Lowell, Newport, and New Matamoras have been able to make needed improvements to facilities and to acquire the equipment and furnishings necessary to have a safe and comfortable meeting place. Social Supports like those provided at community senior centers are important. Continued involvement helps seniors avoid isolation and loneliness, and prevents depression which is a common problem with older adults.
The Washington County senior services levy is making a difference in the lives of thousands of older adults. Without the senior levy, many of these services would not be available to help seniors remain healthy and independent.
Remember, this is not a new tax. The millage does not change. The senior services levy costs each of us very little - but its impact is enormous! Remember, we in Washington County always spend our tax dollars wisely - always trying to get the most "bang for our buck." This levy money is administered locally by our County Commissioners and local service providers. Join me in voting for the senior services replacement levy on Nov. 8.
Tom Webster is chairman of the Washington County Senior Services Levy committee.