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County senior mealsites, planning department scrapped in 2012 budget plan

Monday Oct. 24, Warren County supervisors debate proposed budget cuts that call for scrapping eight county senior mealsites, virtually shutting down the county planning department and eliminating the county Youth Court -- actions that would eliminate 24 job positions.

Monday Oct. 24, Warren County supervisors debate proposed budget cuts that call for scrapping eight county senior mealsites, virtually shutting down the county planning department and eliminating the county Youth Court -- actions that would eliminate 24 job positions. Photo by Thom Randall.

— A tentative 2012 county budget that calls for deep cuts, layoffs and consolidation of government departments and services was unveiled Monday Oct. 24, sparking spirited debate among county supervisors.

The $145.4 million proposed budget reflects an increase of $474,445 over the adopted 2011 budget, reflecting a 1.9 percent increase in local taxes – primarily due to $1.1 million increase in mandated retirement contributions for county employees.

The budget calls for eliminating eight county-sponsored, community-based senior mealsites, at a savings of $126,000 to county taxpayers. The plan also calls for shutting down most functions of the county Planning department, eliminating the county Human Resources Department, eliminating the county Youth Court, and abolishing 24 job positions, while terminating 11 current employees – as well as deep cuts to county public works projects.

Under the proposed plan, senior meals would be prepared in two central kitchens, one at The Cedars, and the other at Countryside Adult Home in Warrensburg. The meals would then be driven directly to seniors at their homes through the Meals on Wheels program.

The seniors that had been attending the community-based mealsites would need to drive to these locations to pick up their meals to continue getting them, county officials said.

But if local towns or organizations wanted to sponsor mealsites, they could provide them, and meals prepared in the two central kitchens could be driven to the local sites, continuing the services as they now are offered.

Several supervisors objected to the mealsite cuts, noting that the group community meals provide important social opportunities for the elderly.

Others decried slashing the funding of the county Planning Department – decreasing its budget by as much as $450,000, noting they have obtained vital community development grants that have enhanced the lives of local homeowners and other county citizens. The proposal calls for shifting $150,000 of the money from the planning department to Warren County Economic Development Corp. to develop jobs, which some supervisors questioned.

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