City contributes to senior center

GLOVERSVILLE – The city will contribute $8,500 to the senior citizens center this year, the Common Council decided Tuesday.

The council also said the city Recreation Commission will use the center once a month for events.

First Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth said city officials met with board members from the Senior Citizens Service Center of Gloversville & Fulton County and reviewed the center’s budget. She said it’s in the best interests of the city’s seniors and the city to contribute some money to the center.

The council approved the expenditure with the stipulation the center allows the Recreation Commission to use the center.

Wentworth said the senior center budget for 2013 includes revenue of $70,500 and proposed expenses of $74,600, leaving a gap of $4,100.

“This is a sign that we are going to be open for a long time to come, hopefully,” said Eugene Reppenhagen, president of the center’s Board of Directors. “With the additional funding, we can look at expanding our program and providing more services for the seniors. We have been very limited in what we could do because not knowing how we would keep the doors open, and that was always hanging over our head. But now with the help of the city and other community agencies, we have straightened out a lot of problems and [are] looking forward to providing more for the greatest generation that lives in Gloversville.”

“They have been working very hard and there have been some fundraisers,” Wentworth said of senior center supporters. “I think they are heading in the right direction.”

“I was reticent to providing funds until I saw an actual budget,” 6th Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski said. “I am much more pleased now than I was in the past.”

City Finance Commissioner Bruce VanGenderen said at the meeting he didn’t think providing the center with the additional money would have a negative effect on the city’s budget.

The funding the city provides to the center will be determined annually according to what the city can provide and what the senior center needs, city officials said.

“This is a step in the right direction, and our fund balance over the last few years has improved greatly, so for us to provide $8,500 and move one year at a time is something I am very proud of,” Mayor Dayton King said. “I applaud the council members for working tirelessly to make this happen.”

The senior center also receives $7,500 from the town of Johnstown and $500 from the town of Day. The center also conducts fundraisers and receives private donations.

“This [center] is an important part of the community, and they are struggling and [are] not like other agencies that are getting funding from a lot of other sources,” Wentworth said.

The senior center board has brought on five new members over the last year, and the members have donated $15,000 to keep the center open, Reppenhagen said.

He said the budget for 2013 was decided in January and it is much lower this year without an executive director.

Center officials announced in October it had eliminated Executive Director Catherine Mueller’s job in an effort to cut costs and keep the center open.

The budget for 2012 was $83,000, and in 2011, Mueller made about $24,000, Reppenhagen said. He said operating the center costs about $8,000 a month.

The only employee still at the center is a part-time secretary, but most workers at the center volunteer, center board member Michael Ponticello said.

In January, the center held a Chili Trifecta fundraiser. Center board member Charlie Potter said the event was attended by more than 100 guests, and the center collected about $700.

The center’s next meal fundraiser will be March 15. The event will include corned beef and cabbage.

In the future, King said, the city will look into setting money aside to allow agencies to come before the council with a plan and budget and ask for funding.

The city previously provided $3,500 to the Fulton County Office for the Aging’s Meals on Wheels program.

Levi Pascher covers Gloversville news. He can be reached by email at