Potential loss of senior meals discussed

Program currently in tentative budget

The Essex County Meals on Wheels Program Central Kitchen in Elizabethtown.

The Essex County Meals on Wheels Program Central Kitchen in Elizabethtown. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— Discussion over meetings being held by the Office of the Aging Department turned into a budget discussion a day before the tentative budget was scheduled to be released.

Department head Patty Bashaw addressed the Human Services committee during its Nov. 14 meeting, saying that she had set up a schedule to meet with seniors at different meal sites concerning the possibility of the program being eliminated in the 2012 budget.

That did not sit well with County Chairman and Jay Supervisor Randall “Randy” Douglas.

“I had no idea that this was on the table,” Douglas, who is not a member of the committee, said. “We should not rile people up before we see the actual budget.”

“I asked what I should do, and it was made clear to me that I should be out and speaking to the people,” Bashaw said. “I do not want to be behind the eight ball if the program is eliminated and we only have 15 days to respond to it.”

Committee Chairman David Blades of Lewis said that he had made the recommendation to Bashaw.

“Patty was getting a lot of calls and I suggested that she needed to do her homework,” Blades said.

Douglas still disagreed, because he felt it was a topic that needed to be looked at in the budget first.

“Putting things out there that have not been discussed is inappropriate,” Douglas said.

“With all due respect, this is not a fear campaign,” Moriah Supervisor and County Budget Officer Thomas “Tom” Scozzafava said. “I do not think that it is wrong to let the people know what programs could be gone.”

“I have not been out there trying to scare the people,” Bashaw said. “I could go out to these sites and say not to worry, you are always going to have a nutrition site. I am just trying to let people know what is out there on the table.”

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