Turn out the lights: Senior Center cutting back to afford electricity bills

senior center
Campbell County Senior Center is at 701 Stocktrail Ave. in Gillette.

(Gillette, Wyo.) Budget cuts are affecting everyone, even our seniors. The Campbell County Senior Center Board met with County Commissioners last week to update funding issues.

The Senior Center Board had first requested $60,000 in funding with the City Council. They reported to county commissioners that they had an additional $25,000 to add to their original funding request, making it a total of $85,000.

The City of Gillette previously provided the facility a discount on electricity, but will no longer be offering that in the 2017/2018 fiscal year, which starts in July. The senior center requested the additional $25,000 to cover their utility expenses going in to the next year.

Some of the budget cuts that they have had so far are:

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  • $43,000 in state funds cut in 2016
  • decreased 1% funding revenue from the City
  • $31,000 – $54,000 cut from decreased 1% funding by the County, with the county requesting a 7% and 12% additional budget reduction in the 2017/2018 budget

For the 2016/2017 fiscal year there was a total reduction in budget of $103,000, and for the 2017/2018 budget there is potentially another $100,000 in cuts from city, county, and state funding. So far at the senior center has went from 53 employees to 38 employees, and only 20 employees are still full time. The benefit program for has been restructured, and there hasn’t been a wage increase for any staff in two years, not even standard cost of living raises.

The senior center board reported that they’ve been looking for other items they can cut or somehow reduce. A few things that have been talked about is getting rid of the juice machine that isn’t part of the program, that will save them $6,000 a year, increasing the suggested contribution for dinners, and possibly switching their phone service. Many of the seniors have been receptive to the issues with the budget cuts and changes that are going to be made.

Funding with the Silver Sage Senior Center in Wright has also been cut back, with the organization there asking the town for help paying for monthly senior dinners. The situation caused some consternation at last month’s regularly scheduled Town Council meeting, as Mayor Ralph Kingan claims he’s been through their budget issues before with no luck, and no one seemed to be offering reasonable solutions.

The Campbell County Senior Center appeared in front of the City on Tuesday, April 11 to request for $278,000.