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PANEL SEEKS MORE AID FOR SENIOR CENTER

The city's adult-recreation program budget could receive a $7,000 infusion halfway through the fiscal year if a measure sent out of committee Tuesday is approved by the Common Council in November.

The additional funds will help cover some of the operating expenses for the Planning Committee on Problems of the Aging group that has managed Senior Center activities at the John J. Ash Community Center since 1982.

According to Planning Committee representatives Maureen Curry and Dan Carr, the group has spent its reserves and has investigated other stopgap measures, including grant applications, while at the same time awaiting word about requests for United Way funds and a state legislative member item contribution from State Sen. Patricia K. McGee, R-Franklinville.

"We're not in danger of closing, we're just doing financial and long-range planning," Carr said after the meeting, adding that the group hopes to increase the city's contribution for 2001-02 to $32,000, from $25,000, and use some of it to give a raise to the program director.

According to a financial summary, Senior Center Director Kathy Hamed was paid $15,210 in the 2000 budget year.

A written analysis that Curry and Carr presented to aldermen in a committee session Tuesday night shows a year-end deficit of $13,212, an amount that has grown from the 2000 deficit of $8,890. The report also states that the First Presbyterian Church's Roberts Fund annually donates $20,000 toward the group's $54,000 budget.

In 1987, the city began contributing $5,000 each year, but by 2000 that amount had grown to $19,000, and increased to $25,000 in 2001.

Mayor James P. Griffin and then-City Auditor Gregg Prockton met last winter with the Planning Committee to discuss some options, among them a plan that would have increased the city's share to $34,000.

Wednesday, Common Council President Paula Snyder, who holds a seat on the Planning Committee, said the group tried to raise money from all available sources over the past year but finally approached her to bring a resolution before the Common Council.

"I can't let them cut back programs. When they came to me, they were pretty desperate," Snyder said, predicting the Planning Committee will probably need a $32,000 contribution in the city's 2002-03 budget, if not the $34,000 requested for 2001. Snyder added that she hopes some other private funding sources will materialize, because the group provides so many services for Olean senior citizens.

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