The Kent Senior Center won’t get any of the nearly $3.5 million King County will distribute this year to 38 organizations serving older adults because city staff never applied for the funds.
Senior centers in Auburn, Federal Way and Burien will get at least $105,000 each funded by the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy through county property taxes. The levy, renewed by voters in 2017, includes new funding specifically for older adults and their caregivers. Senior centers in Renton, Des Moines, SeaTac, Enumclaw and Pacific also received funds.
Senior-serving organizations countywide applied for one-time facility improvements or repairs, training, equipment, digital infrastructure, disability renovations and enhancements of current programs, according to a Aug. 2 county media release.
“Kent did not directly apply for this first initial phase of funding under the transition plan and is concentrating its efforts on submitting an application in the fall, focusing on the remaining five years of the implementation plan,” said Julie Parascondola, city director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, in an email.
“Kent is facing some very challenging budget discussions ahead, especially in Parks, Recreation and Community Services, which includes Human Services and the Kent Senior Center, areas mostly influenced by this levy funding. It’s important to me as the director and for the city to identify and fund its established baseline needs first, then to begin strategically adjusting from there.
“While we are farther along in that process, the 2019-2020 operating and capital budgets won’t be approved until year end.”
The city of Kent certainly could use more money with potential losses of up to $10 million annually in state-shared revenue starting in 2020. Kent could cut as many as 18 jobs in another year and plans to begin a series of increases in the city’s business and occupation (B&O) tax to help replace lost state revenue.
City leaders plan to cut expenses by $2.1 million in 2020, including about $1.1 million in Parks, Recreation and Community Services, which includes the Senior Center.
“It is important for Kent to be strategic in its approach on providing expanded services and we need to be cautious in committing to a new community expectation, until we know whether we can sustain that enhancement or expectation,” Parascondola said about not applying for the county funds.
Parascondola said residents will have a chance to tell the city where to expand services through the development this month of a community influenced Recreation Program Plan and on a separate track, the creation of a Long Term Facilities Master Plan for the city and whether community partners should deliver certain services rather than the city.
“While the Recreation Program Plan will be looking at many areas of public programming, senior programs, services and healthy aging will be a key area reviewed and discussed directly with the community, as well as fully engaging our Senior Center Advisory Board, Parks & Recreation Commission and more,” she said. “These two documents will position Kent to be more strategic in aligning our priorities where our community would like us to expand services and/or where infrastructure or other capital investments are needed, being pro-active and sustainable versus reactive.”
Despite Kent not applying for any of the county funds this year for seniors, Parascondola said services remain intact.
“I want to make sure the Kent community understands the Kent Senior Center is still funded by the general fund and continuing to provide high quality programs for its seniors and other populations in Kent,” she said.