This position, with benefits, would cost the county something in the neighborhood of $65,000 a year. Yet it seemed the argument was made, we suppose with a straight face, that cutting this $65,000 would be needed to balance the proposed $124.5 million budget. To many, including us, such an argument is laughable, especially when the loss to the county’s senior citizens is considered. In fact, we were even told that while attempts would be made to cover the seniors’ needs with volunteers and hopefully college students, there would be seniors who would not get the help they need. And that will be a sad day for the county, as it would seem to join the ever growing number who seem to be indicating that seniors are expendable and easily marginalized.
Of course, this is not the first time the Office for the Aging has sustained troubling cuts. We well remember that decision a number of years ago now, to close the county’s senior nutrition sites in Cooperstown and Worcester. At the time we pointed out to the head of the Office for the Aging department, that the county was in a position of picking winners and losers among the seniors, given the fact that seniors who attended the two sites that were eliminated were cut completely from the nutrition site program, while seniors who attended the other sites run by the county suffered no cuts whatsoever. It was an obvious case of picking winners and losers. At least with this most recent cut, the county hasn’t picked any winners, only losers.
And we hasten to point out that they are most unhappy losers. We have talked with a great number of people, all of whom had nothing, but good things to say about the service the Office for the Aging has provided seniors in navigating the Medicare maze. And trust us, not one of them had a good thing to say about the decision on the part of the county to eliminate the position. And unfortunately, the message that many of the seniors we talked with received is that they don’t matter.