3 big questions about Middletown senior services levy

Larry Brooks, a driver with Central Connections, helps Wanda Coffey, a volunteer for Hospice Care of Middletown, get in one of their transportation vans for a ride home from the senior center in Middletown. Middletown voters will decide on a senior services renewal levy this spring. STAFF FILE/2016

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Larry Brooks, a driver with Central Connections, helps Wanda Coffey, a volunteer for Hospice Care of Middletown, get in one of their transportation vans for a ride home from the senior center in Middletown. Middletown voters will decide on a senior services renewal levy this spring. STAFF FILE/2016

Middletown voters will decide on a senior services renewal levy this spring.

Middletown City Council unanimously voted this week to place a senior services levy renewal on the May 2 ballot.

The proposed five-year, 1-mill levy renewal for Central Connections, which operates the senior center at 3909 Central Ave., will cost owners of a $100,000 home less than $30 per year, Richard Isroff, co-chair of the levy committee, told council before the vote.

Explore MORE: How levy funds will be spent and who will benefit

Here are some of the questions that were posed to Central Connections officials, and their answers during Tuesday’s meeting:

1. Is it possible to reduce the amount or number of years of the levy?

Monica Smith, executive director of Central Connections,said an elections attorney the organization works with said the number of years could be reduced without a new resolution going before the city council, “however, the millage can’t change without a new resolution or starting over.”

Officials have said it would be too late to start over and still place the matter on the May ballot.

Council did not reduce the levy’s term during their meeting this week.

2. Could the city manage the levy proceeds through an agreement between the senior center and city government?

Smith said Central Connections “would be in favor of an agreement or a contract between the senior center and the city of Middletown.”

Mayor Larry Mulligan Jr. said he had asked that question because he wanted to know whether city government could “be a little more specific in terms of how the funds would be used, maybe allow for some check points once the mortgage is reduced… Allow council to determine possibly how those could be used.”

That would “allow us to have a little better control and oversight,” Mulligan said.

Meanwhile, Council Member Dan Picard said he didn’t want the city to become involved in running Central Connections.

Isroff said the organization is willing to be more specific about how the levy money can be spent.

3. Council Member Talbott Moon noted that with the levy generating $662,000 per year over five years, that’s about twice the money that will be needed to pay off the mortgage. “Can you give the public a little bit of information of where rest of the (money) is going to go?” Moon asked.

Smith answered that could be a conversation the organization could have with city government about oversight.

Officials previously have said the excess also could be used for roof repairs and a fund to finance future capital needs.

Isroff also said by the time the levy term expires, Middletown seniors will account for 20 percent of the population, compared with 16 percent now.

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