The Beatty Senior Center almost went back empty-handed from the Beatty Town Advisory Board meeting June 1.
The Center, facing possible closure after the county eliminated its subsidy, was seeking grant match funding and operating expenses up to $55,000 from the town.
Members of the board and audience spent considerable time questioning Nye County Senior Nutrition Finance Manager Jennie Martin about finances and regulations.
Much of the discussion during the meeting focused on what the Senior Center might be able to do to cut costs or raise additional funds.
Audience members who are, or had been, involved in Senior Center operations said that they were hamstrung on every side by regulations accompanying government grants that are the Center’s major source of funding.
According to their comments, every time they’ve tried to do something to save money or raise funds, they have been told, “You can’t do that.” For example, people with gardens or chickens cannot donate produce or eggs for use in the kitchen, and the Center cannot have meal cards or sell take-out meals.
Project Council Board Chairman Marty Campbell said the Center does not get the support it should from some of the people who use it. While saying that there are those for whom the Center supplies their only meal and that closing is not an option, he said that there are others not in need who think they are entitled to a free meal, when they are not.
Resident Charlotte Reed asked if property taxes could be levied to help pay for the Center. Board treasurer Erika Gerling said it might be possible, but it would require a public vote. The creation of a taxing district, she said, might result not in additional tax but in taking tax money from other programs. This, she said, is what is happening in the creation of the Northern Nye Hospital District.
Nurse Practitioner Diane McGinnis spoke in support of the Center’s program. “Nutrition is really important to health. If people aren’t getting good nutrition, they don’t heal as well.”
McGinnis also said that the socialization of involvement in the Senior Center provides an emotional and psychological benefit to participants.
Martin said they have looked for cost-cutting measures and other ways of funding the program, but, “there are just not any miracle ideas out there.”
“We are,” she added, “in a lot of ways, hanging by a thread.”
Gerling said that she would commit to work with others to try to develop ideas to make the program continue, but said they needed to make a decision on the matter at hand, which was the request for financial assistance from the town.
Gerling’s motion was for the town to supply a 12 percent match for the grant for congregate meals and a 15 percent match for the home delivery program, for a total up to $11,000. She also stipulated thorough reporting to the board on a variety of items involving finances and attendance.
Kelly Carroll seconded Gerling’s motion, but when the vote was taken, only Carroll and Gerling voted in favor. Board Chairman Dick Gardner and member Crystal Taylor voted no. Board member Randy Reed, who is employed by the Senior Center, abstained, so the tie vote killed the motion.
Members of the audience asked Gardner and Taylor to explain their “no” votes.
Gardner said, “The agenda says ‘subsidy,’ and I am against subsidies. I said it the other night.”
Taylor said she wanted the Project Council to come up with a plan to see if they could operate without money from the grants that limit what they can do.
From the audience, Jerry Hammes said he recommended they make money available this time because of “a rough transition” and not as a regular, long-term practice.
“I don’t see anything in here that this is a one-time shot,” said Gardner, after which Gerling amended her motion to make it a one-time action.
Gerling also said that, without a show of financial support in the form of matching funds, the Center would not be able to get the needed grants.
The board then voted on the amended motion, and it passed 4-0, with Reed abstaining.
The Nye County Commission on Tuesday agreed to pursue two state grants totaling $250,000 to assist the senior nutrition programs in Beatty, Amargosa Valley and Tonopah.