cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
The March 9th Village Buzz piece elicited the following comment from a reader:
Something I would love for you to investigate since you are good at tracking down the village's financial information --- how much does the village pay each year to subsidize/support the Senior Center? To me, as we cut expenses, we need to look at spinning that off to a private company as a top priority. Sure, it's a "nice to have" and makes for a nice gathering spot, but it is probably a luxury we won't be able to afford if we have to choose between going below barebones police/fire staff, road repair, waste management and other true necessities. There must be an older block of voters supporting the center with their appointees (perhaps even you) but when the rubber hits the road I think this has to go and it looks like the Walker changes are going to force some changes at the village level. If we have to start eliminating teachers due to the cuts from Madison and limits on the school's ability to raise taxes, there is no doubt in my mind the Senior Center is expendable from a village perspective and should probably be among the first items on the chopping block. Have you heard any comments like before and if so, can you look into this for a future Village Buzz? Thanks.
The Germantown Senior Center is something about which I knew very little. I have been in the new building once that I recall, and I do not have an “axe to grind” one way or the other even though I certainly qualify as a ‘senior’. That having been said, I have gathered information on the financial aspects and will provide the response that seems appropriate from my perspective.
The Senior Center has been administered by the Park and Recreation Department for the past couple of years. That falls into the bailiwick of Brett Altergott who directs this department. The total budget for the Center for 2010 was set at $121,641. The actual expense came in at $107,424. The total subsidy from property tax was scheduled to be $81,641 and the actual amount subsidized through property taxes was $76,130. The subsidy amounts to about 6/10s of one percent of the property tax collected.
The Center is demand driven with most events and services requiring a contribution from the participants who participate. I was interested in the trips that are offered and wondered if those were also subsidized. Trips are totally paid for by the participants; there is no subsidy by tax payers. At the other ‘extreme’ would be the fitness center inside the Senior Center. There is no assessed participation fee for this area.
The Germantown Senior Club, independent of the Senior Center and organized as a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt organization, pays the cost of postage and office supplies for the Senior Center in return for the space it has been provided in the Center.
Among the other things that are sponsored by the Senior Center is the Washington County meals program for seniors, which are paid for by the seniors who participate. I am not aware of the funding that may be provided by the County to subsidize this program but that would be above and beyond the Germantown property tax roll impact.
Given that seniors who own property are property taxpayers who support the village, and given that the net cost to the property taxpayers is in the range of 6/10s of one percent of the total collected, I don’t see a sufficient payback that would offset the impact to those using this facility and the services made available that would justify what the commenter was suggesting was a ‘slam dunk’ place to pick up money.
In fact, since this Center is demand driven, the more people who make use of it, the less will be the subsidy required to keep it operating. That is the goal of Mr. Altergott.