ROGERS CITY - The Presque Isle County Council on Aging is hoping county taxpayers will think of their fellow senior citizens when they vote in the August primary election.
The organization has two millage requests on the ballot, one a renewal and the second an increase in funding, PICCOA co-Director Denise Parrott said. Both are six-year millages that would raise an estimated $490,134 in their first year, and both would fund the organization's day-to-day operations.
Rising costs, cuts to state and federal funding and impending hikes to the state minimum wage could put PICCOA in serious financial trouble, Parrott said. The agency already has wait lists for some services, and last year had to temporarily close its Posen kitchen. The 0.5 mill renewal helps the agency keep its doors open, and the 0.25 mill increase is needed to help the agency maintain its services for all county residents age 60 and older.
"The current funding just isn't enough with inflation and how far the dollar spreads any more," she said. "That's why we need not only the renewal but the quarter-mill to help us get through. We're also hoping to eliminate some of the waiting list."
Along with congregate meals at PICCOA's Posen and Onaway locations, the agency also delivers meals, offers commodities and provides in-home services, Parrott said. These include personal care, light housekeeping and respite care. Agency staff and others also help senior citizens with Medicare, preparing taxes and other services as well.
Contrary to a widespread misconception, PICCOA's services are for everybody 60 and older, regardless of income, Parrott said. Those who use the services greatly appreciate having them available.
"Those that we help express very frequently that they would have no place else to turn," she said. "We feel this is our tax dollars at work to help people, even if it's information or seeking help from other agencies."
Presque Isle County has a growing population of senior citizens, and PICCOA would like to serve as many of those who seek the agency's help as possible, Parrott said. Unlike other county councils on aging, PICCOA has two centers to serve the county. On top of that, the agency has an agreement to give 10 percent of its funding to the Rogers City Area Senior and Community Center.
All these services add up for the nonprofit organization, and PICCOA's budget of around $665,000 in expenses just isn't enough to cover everything, Parrott said. The agency would likely have to cut services if the millage increase doesn't pass, and may have to temporarily close its kitchen again.
"We're just counting on people to remember us at the ballot so that we can continue helping the seniors of our county for the next six years," she said.