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Senior services changes opposed

The Hamburg supervisor's proposed budget calls for increased revenues for senior services, resulting in higher rates for the van service and the elimination of the nationally recognized Adult Day Care program.

But senior citizens, along with other residents, spoke up against the changes Monday during a public information meeting.

"It is the most reckless thing that's ever been brought to Hamburg," said Richard McDonald, who participates in the Adult Day Care program. He was among the overflow crowd of about 100 who attended the meeting in the senior services building on Sowles Road.

Town Board members also didn't hide their dislike of the budget proposals.

"That's not going to happen on my watch," said D. Mark Cavalcoli, deputy supervisor, who had identified himself as the only senior citizen on the Town Board. "I'm not going to let senior services and Adult Day Care fail."

He and other Town Board members assured residents that the programs would stay intact with affordable rates.

Supervisor Steven J. Walters told residents there's a $2.5 million budget shortfall that has to be closed, either by an increase in revenues or taxes.

"My intention by no means is to eliminate senior services," Walters said. "If we can come up with creative ways to close the gap, I'm open to that."

Walters' budget for 2007 requests $80,000 in additional revenue for the Adult Day Care Program. This year's budget for the program is $288,000, and revenue is $210,000.

John H. Farrell, director of senior services, said the supervisor wants the program to become self-supporting, with no town funding. And to do that, it would call for an increase in rates to $75, from $25, for half-day participation, and to $125, from $40, for a full day. Farrell said participants can't afford to pay that amount of money.

Other options include cutting staff, which won't allow the program to function, he said.

"It would close our program," Farrell said.

And residents decried the thought. "If you close the center, I'll be homebound," said Carol Lawrence, a program participant.

A budget hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6 in Town Hall.

e-mail: esapong@buffnews.com

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