AP NEWS

Ashby COA: Growing Needs Call for More Funding

March 14, 2019
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ASHBY -- The Council on Aging is asking for a $6,500 budget increase to double its weekly office hours and the amount of time its director works to better serve a growing senior population.

“The more seniors you have, the more needs you have,” said Council on Aging Director Corey Harju. “Meeting needs takes time and communication.”

The council is asking for a wage budget of about $8,950 to expand the director’s hours to 16 hours a week and the council’s Wednesday office hours to six a week, Harju said. Overall, the Council on Aging’s requested budget is about $10,500.

For fiscal 2019, the council’s budget for wages and expenses is about $3,960 total.

Council on Aging budgets between fiscal 2015 and 2018 were at least $4,000, according to town expense reports.

As director, Harju is paid for eight hours of work a week, but in reality, she said, she puts in between 16 and 20 hours weekly by helping seniors receive services and coordinating activities.

“I’m doing what needs to be done to get the job done,” she said. “We have enough seniors in town that we need someone to take this position seriously.”

Of Ashby’s 3,095 residents, nearly 19 percent are over the age of 65, according to the council.

By 2024, the town’s senior population is projected to reach 29 percent, the council estimates.

To support the council’s budget increase for fiscal 2020, residents can attend Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen meetings or write and call members of the boards.

They can also come to the Council on Aging’s meetings and volunteer to help seniors in town, Harju said.

The Ashby native took the Council on Aging director position about a year ago. She said she feels a sense of duty to help seniors in town because many of them are people who raised her.

Any sort of increase to the council’s budget could be helpful, Harju said.

“I want to get the position to where it’s well-funded and ready for the future,” she said.

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