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Fiscal strain growing for Medina County Office for Older Adults

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    Bob Starcher, left, is being sworn in as Ward 1 Council member Monday night at city hall by Medina County Probate Judge Kevin Dunn. Starcher is shown with his wife, Chris.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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MEDINA — As Medina County’s senior population continues to soar, the need for the Medina County Office for Older Adults continues to grow right alongside it.

To help the agency meet the need, Medina City Council’s Finance Committee again approved an annual contribution of $20,000 for 2019.

Office for Older Adults Director Laura Toth said the county’s three major cities contribute to help her office.

She said Brunswick contributes just under $20,000 and Wadsworth about $12,000.

“Your money is definitely being well spent,” Toth said Monday.

Toth said there are 27 clients in the Medina city limits that are delivered warm meals several days a week. In the month of October, it added up to 579 meals at $2.67 per meal.

There are also 15 clients within the city limits that are served congregate meals. That added up to 80 meals served in October.

Jackie Smith, who works with Toth at the Office for Older Adults, said senior citizens make up 22 percent of Medina’s population. That number is expected to climb to 31 percent by 2020, Smith said.

“The problem we have, there isn’t enough money and there are more and more seniors,” she said.

Smith wondered why there isn’t a levy for the Office for Older Adults.

“… Laura has to stretch every dollar just to feed everyone,” Smith said.

Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell, who sits on the Medina County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health board, said the county is considering a levy for the ADAMH board, Job and Family Services and the Office for Older Adults.

Sally Gardner, also from the Office of Older Adults, said the home delivered meals are a “lifesaver” for many city residents.

Warm meals aren’t the only task of the senior agency.

The office also pays for 34 clients to use Medina County Public Transit. In total, those clients took 305 trips in the month of October.

“There are all these people out there who need these services,” Gardner said.

At-Large Councilman Bill Lamb said the Office for Older Adults is vital to the senior population.

Lamb said he’d be willing to pay more than $20,000, “but I’m not sure that would fly (with the rest of Council).”

“Seniors are a very important part of the community,” he said.

Smith said some seniors that show up to the Office for Older Adults don’t have enough money to purchase a $1 lunch.

Toth said the United Church of Christ, Congregational, located on Public Square, has donated $1,600 recently to pay for lunch for people who can’t afford it.

Toth said her office is also establishing a 501 (c)(3) this year. They are planning a fundraiser for Feb. 23.

Council President John Coyne III supported the contribution, but he said he’s leery about making contributions to nonprofits.

“If you give to one, you have to give it to all,” he said. “I have concerns for a government giving money to nonprofits. How do you pick? That’s not what we’re here to do.

“We’re stewards of the money. It’s important, but there are other needy nonprofits out there. Last year, I was very concerned with the precedent we’re setting.”

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.


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