Commission members: Rosalind Kopfstein, Chairman, Janet Metzger, Jean Whitham, Hilda Rhodes, Beth Wagner, Ingrid Heller, Henry Polio, Lea Mintz
Others present: Gail Schiron, Marie Sibilio, Ruth Moran, Julia Pemberton (9:32 am) and two members of the public
Mrs. Kopfstein called the February 4, 2015 meeting to order at 9:02 am in the Heritage Center.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the minutes of the meeting of January 7, 2015 be accepted as corrected. Metzger, Mintz. Approved. Unanimous.
Corrections: page 1, under Mrs. Schiron’s report, she maintains a presence in Georgetown
REPORT FROM DIRECTOR OF HUMAN SERVICES
Mrs. Schiron reported on the following:
- Northwestern Mental Health Board meeting was attended.
- Budget: illness prevented her from attending the Budget Workshop, but she has been notified by the Director of Finance, that the programming budget may be reduced from $27,000 to $25,000. The decision will be made at the Board of Selectmen meeting on February 9, 2015 when the Town budget is finalized.
- Credit Card fees: Mrs. Schiron was notified that the fees for processing credit cards are high. She will speak with Mr. Gniadek, explore options, and consider not taking credit card payments.
- Emergency Management Team: Mrs. Schiron reported that a meeting was held prior to the January blizzard to get everything in place. The Community Center serves as a warming shelter in the event it is needed.
- Blizzard/snow: Mrs Schiron has been in contract with several residents to be sure they were prepared for the weather conditions.
- Salvations Army: the revenue to the Town of Redding for the holiday bell ringing is $1,000. This can be used to offset fuel needs.
- Fuel Assistance: Mrs. Schiron reported that three residents have applied for fuel assistance.
- Housing: two inquiries were received regarding the availability of senior housing in Redding.
Mrs. Pemberton arrived at 9:32 am, during the following discussion.
Discussion of letter regarding Elderly Tax Benefit: the letter from the Redding Assessor was sent to residents receiving the Elderly Tax Benefit and has generated a number of questions. The letter includes an affidavit to be completed by the applicant regarding eligibility for the State benefit. If eligible, the Town benefit is reduced for the tax payer. If not eligible, the form is to be signed and returned to the Assessor’s office. Members of the Commission commented that the letter of explanation was not clear and was confusing. Following a long discussion, it was agreed that Mrs. Kopfstein will work with Mrs. Moran on getting information from the Assessor’s office and writing an explanation that could be included in the Heritage Center Newsletter and/or emailed to Redding seniors. She will also request that the Assessor and a representative of the Board of Finance attend the next Commission on Aging meeting to discuss the issues.
Mrs. Metzger asked if something could be done to provide greater privacy for those accessing the food pantry. At the last meeting, Mrs. Schiron reported on an uncomfortable situation with a mom leaving the food pantry with supplies and meeting friends outside the gym. Mrs. Metzger suggested inviting those moms, who are waiting for their children in the gym program, to wait in the Heritage lounge. Mrs. Schiron is working with individuals to arrange convenient times to make pickups, even offering to be on site on Fridays if necessary.
SENIOR CENTER COORDINATOR REPORT
Mrs. Sibilio reported on attendance for classes. Many classes have been cancelled due to weather conditions, and credits are being issued where appropriate.
Van User Policy: A new policy for van users has been instituted. The policy specifies that the user must be able to exit/enter their homes on their own. The van driver may escort passengers to and from their home to the van entry as well as the doorway of destinations.
- Mental Health Task Force: Mrs. Kopfstein reported a community presentation on the report from the Mental Health Task Force is planned for February 11, 2015. Mrs. Pemberton noted that the report includes a proposal for the addition of a social worker for the Town. The current budget proposal includes a placeholder for the position at $45,000/year. The Board of Selectmen will be finalizing the budget at their regular meeting on February 9, 2015 and would like more information/data on the Mental Health Task Force report.
- Status of Georgetown Project: Mrs. Pemberton reported there is no change in the status of the project. A meeting scheduled for last week with the bondholders had to be cancelled due to weather conditions.
- 2015-16 Budget: Mrs. Pemberton reported that every line item in the budget is being reviewed, including the line item for Heritage Center programs. In addition, consideration is being given to opening the Heritage Center on Fridays. This will involve some change or modification in staffing. The goal is to have the Center available on Fridays for programs and to provide van service.
- Van Service: the service area and uses of the van are being reviewed. An alternate/subtitute driver for the van is desirable.
- Income Tax Preparation Service: Mrs. Metzger and Mrs. Wagner noted that assistance with income tax filing is available to Redding residents through AARP at a Bethel location. They suggested that a notice be sent out to seniors and something be included in the Newsletter.
The next meeting is scheduled for March 4, 2015 at 9:00 am in the Community Center.
The Chair adjourned the meeting at 10:15 am.
Submitted by Mary Maday, Recording Secretary