Middletown senior services renewal levy to appear on May ballot

Middletown City Council unanimously voted this week to place a senior services levy renewal in front of voters May 2.

The proposed five-year renewal for Central Connections, which operates the senior center at 3909 Central Ave., will cost owners of a $100,000 home less than $30 per year, Richard "Dick" Isroff, a board member, finance committee member and co-chair of the levy committee, told council before the vote.

MORE: 3 big questions addressed about Middletown senior services levy

When the five-year senor levy first was sought in 2012, proponents hoped it would be a one-time thing. But officials said because of funding cuts they will be unable to pay off the mortgage with that five-year levy.

Isroff said the senior center’s original mortgage was $3.6 million, “and the funds went almost exclusively — we had just one small portion for operations, $26,000 — over that four-year period, but everything else has gone to reduce those first mortgages down.”

When the original levy’s revenues stop arriving in late 2017 (the levy’s fifth year), the building’s mortgage will be down to $1.6 million, he said.

ExploreRELATED: Middletown readies for flurry of activity in 2017

Council Member Talbott Moon expressed concern the proposed renewal will generate about twice as much is needed to pay off the mortgage.

Isroff told council that Central Connections investigated selling the senior center, but “most people are most aware of what the real estate situation here in Middletown would be on a building that size. Plus, we need that facility to meet the need.”

He said the Middletown location produces more than 125,000 meals for seniors per year, and provides more than 14,000 trips for seniors annually, “with no other agency around to back that up.”

In looking at how other communities help their senior citizens, Isroff said, “we noticed in surrounding areas, like Mason, Miamisburg, Franklin, Germantown, almost every one of these cities have a line item expense in their city budget to support senior services.”

Having an independent agency manage the fund keeps a burden off of city government’s own budget, Isroff said.

“Other cities in this area — most cities — are spending money toward the seniors, to give them the services that we’re able to provide.”

Vice Mayor Dora Bronston expressed disappointment the organization didn’t offer projections of revenues and spending in future years.

“I was presuming that we were going to receive a presentation with overhead cost projections and things like that,” Bronston said. She wanted to see estimates of “how you will be doing in the future” and whether the organization will be “able to stand on your own two feet with the proceeds that you’re receiving now from other entities.”

Monica Smith, executive director of Central Connections, apologized, saying she didn’t know that was expected.

“But I would be more than happy to get that information to you,” she said.

Some on council have expressed concern that Central Connections may seek yet another renewal in five years.

Isroff said once the mortgage is paid off, the organization believes it won’t need a renewal, thanks to more efficient operations and new revenue-generating services being offered, such as catering and a reception facility.

“We’re booked clear into 2018 right now,” he said about the center’s reception area, adding that those funds go to fund senior services.

Bronston, before the unanimous vote, called herself a supporter of the organization.

“(I’d) just like to say that we all use the senior facility over there — I do — and I see a lot of familiar faces (in the audience, supporting the levy),” she said. “I do support the center. And we do need the senior center here. We just wanted to be sure that the public gets all the information that they need to vote on this.”

About the Author