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Minutes of Commission on Aging, 10/01/2014

AGENDA: Commission on Aging

RECEIVED 10/02/2014 10:47am
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk


Commission members: Rosalind Kopfstein, Chairman, Beth Wagner, Janet Metzger, Jean Whitham, Hilda Rhodes, Lea Mintz, Sam Crocker, Henry Polio, and Ingrid Heller
Others present: Gail Schiron, Marie Sibilio, Ruth Moran, Joe Dolan (Board of Finance) and four other members of the public

Mrs. Kopfstein called the October 1, 2014 meeting to order at 9:00 am in the Town Hall Meeting Room.

Motion: move that the minutes of the meeting of September 3, 2014 be accepted as corrected. Whitham, Polio. Approved. 8-0-1. Mrs. Mintz abstained as she was not present for the meeting.
Correction: typos

Mrs. Schiron reported on the following:

  • Safety Committee: this committee is addressing safety concerns for all town buildings. Mrs. Schiron is co-chair of this town committee.
  • Mental Health Task Force: Mrs. Schiron and Mrs. Kopfstein are members of this committee that is exploring mental health options and how these resources can be accessed.
  • Cleaning/painting: most of the Heritage Center wing of the Community Center was cleaned and painted during the September closing. The only area that needs to be addressed is the game room.
  • Energy Assistance: applications are now being accepted and two residents have applied for assistance.
  • Homebound visits: Mrs. Schiron reported on several homebound visitations.
  • Food Pantry: Mrs. Schiron thanked the Mark Twain Library, Christ Episcopal Church, the Meadow Ridge community and the Girl Scouts for their generous contributions to the Food Pantry. The suggestion for acquiring a freezer is being considered.
  • Senior housing: Mrs. Schiron has three senior ladies who are growing increasingly concerned about their finances and their ability to remain in their homes. Very few options exist for housing in the surrounding area.

Mrs. Moran reported on the successful Garden Club and Art Class exhibition and open house. About 100 people attended the Sunday opening. 50 pieces of art were displayed and 17 floral arrangements, inspired by the art, were on display.

Class participation enrollment: Mrs. Moran provided enrollment information for classes/program (Tai Chi, Aerobics and Spanish) from March to September. She noted that the “register-in-advance” program is helpful for the staff, and for the instructor.
Mrs. Sibilio is being trained on RecTrac, and taking attendance at classes will continue until the “learning curve” is complete. Commission members discussed the importance of the training and encouraged Mrs. Sibilio to devote sufficient time to the training. Once she is trained, other staff members will be trained.

The Current Events Group celebrated their 5-year anniversary. The group, now 30 strong, has a waiting list. The suggestion was made to establish a second group that would meet at a different time and day.

Highstead Arboretum Art Show: an excursion to the Highstead Arboretum to view the art has been arranged. Details will be in the October newsletter.

Lunch & Learn with the Bethel VNA (information on the flu shot) was attended by 29 people. More programs like this are being planned.

Program DROP-IN fee: Effective October 1, 2014, there will be a DROP-IN fee for programs. The fee for a 1-hour program will be $7.00 and the fee for a 2-hour program will be $10.00.

There was discussion of email notifications. Mrs. Sibilio noted that they must use Constant Contact for email notifications and currently the town has only one license (Park & Rec) for that program. Access to the program is limited. They are looking into getting a separate license for Heritage Center use.

Sherry Karraker: Mrs. Karraker commented that she is attending some classes in Easton with a $7.00 drop-in fee and the Bethel Zumba classes for a $3.00 drop in fee. She suggested flexibility for the classes that are offered two times a week, so an individual could miss a Tuesday class, but attend the Thursday class. The staff will take this into consideration and devise a plan. Mrs. Karraker noted that she has a petition signed by more than 40 people asking for an open discussion of the fee structure and thanked the Commission for the open discussion being held.

Jane Ross: Mrs. Ross questioned the change from the “card” system to the pre-paid system, and asked for greater flexibility.

Joe Dolan, representing the Board of Finance, was present to review the discussions and considerations on the Elderly/Senior Tax Benefit. He stated that the proposal that was brought forward and defeated earlier in the year was aimed at:
1. Eliminating those receiving the benefit who did not meet the resident requirements
2. The timing, an administrative change from a May 15 deadline to an April date to allow consideration during the budget deliberations;
3. Concern about the increasing amount or rate of increase of the benefit, noting that the increase in the last few years has been between 6 & 7% a year.

General discussion followed. Points included:

  • There are very few services provided to seniors in Redding
  • Meadow Ridge residents are not entitled to the elderly/senior benefit
  • The senior population in Redding is growing
  • The seniors are not putting children in the schools and increasing the education budget
    The benefit was instituted to help Redding residents remain in their home.
  • Lower taxes (with a change in the elderly benefit) could help or improve the salability of homes in Redding
  • How does Redding compare with other Fairfield County towns and their benefit program?
  • Would a means test be an improvement since all over towns use one?
  • Should a cap be placed on the total senior benefit as part of the town budget be an option (i.e. setting the benefit as a set percentage of the town budget)?
  • Mr. Dolan noted that the Board of Finance is in the process of establishing a subcommittee to explore options and make recommendation. Mrs. Kopfstein asked that representation on that committee include the Commission on Aging.

The next meeting is scheduled for November 5, 2014 at 9:00 am in the Community Center.

The Chair adjourned the meeting at 10:40 am.

Submitted by Mary Maday, Recording Secretary