County commissioners meet with citizens to discuss senior services levy

Jennifer Mussig

Services provided by the Portage County Senior Services Center can’t be counted in dollars alone.

“A lot of people depend on the center as somewhere to go, something to do,” said June Neff, who has been coming to the center for five years. “If you asked some seniors, they’d say if they didn’t come here, they’d sit in their room and die.”

County Commissioners Maureen Frederick and Chris Smeiles met with concerned citizens at the Portage County Senior Services Center yesterday to discuss a possible senior services levy.

The levy would raise $7 million. The funds would support a new senior center and other senior services, such as physical therapy for seniors, exercise classes and education for seniors on medical bills and scams, Smeiles said.

“Right now the law in Ohio doesn’t do enough for seniors,” Smeiles said. “We’re trying to raise awareness and this is how to pay for it.”

The meeting was a preliminary work session. There will be further discussion over the next couple weeks.

“We’re starting a dialogue and trying to receive public input,” Smeiles said.

Then the commission will have to pass a resolution to go before County Auditor Janet Esposito who will make sure the proposed $2 million levy raises $7 million. Smeiles said $2 million is the suggested amount, but the commission hasn’t agreed to it yet.

At this time, they haven’t decided to build a new building or buy an existing building, Smeiles said.

Some suggestions for the new center include the Tops building on West Main Street or the old Ohio Department of Transportation building on Oakwood Street.

Family and Community Services bought the ODOT building and are renting parts of the building, said Claudette Rogers, program coordinator for Family and Community Services. It is possible to rent some space for the new center.

We have a lot of information but no answers, Frederick said. There are concerns about where the money is earmarked to go and what the money will support, she said, and there are no numbers on the cost of the center.

Contact public affairs reporter Jennifer Mussig at [email protected].