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Evergreen Seniors' Center affected by county cuts to agency

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By Sandy Barnes

The Evergreen Seniors' Resource Center, known locally as the Yellow House, is making downward adjustments in the wake of $400,000 in cuts to the central agency approved by Jefferson County commissioners.

A full-time opening in the organization's transportation office will not be replaced, said Evergreen SRC Director Jane Weinberger.

And to save rent, the extension services day program the SRC offers at Church of the Hills will be relocated to the Yellow House, she added.

On Dec. 4, the SRC learned of the impending reduction — an amount that represents a 41 percent decrease in county funding, said John Zabawa, SRC president. As a result, the SRC will close its Southwest Adult Day Center, which serves 30 seniors a day.

And along with the staff reduction at the Evergreen center, seven other full-time positions will be eliminated the first of January. A hiring freeze for 2013 also is in effect, Zabawa said.

Cutbacks in SRC transportation include a 50 percent reduction in Home Community Based Services and and reducing individual round trips for dialysis patients from three to two trips a week. 

The SRC also stands to lose federal and state funds that require matches using county funds, said Zabawa. 

"An additional $1.2 million is in jeopardy as well," he said.

County commissioners voted to cut a total of $688,000 from social service nonprofits,  including Family Tree and the Jefferson Center for Mental Health. 

During the Dec. 18 meeting when the decision was made by Commissioners Don Rosier and Faye Griffin, supporters of the nonprofits spoke against the cuts.

While saying he sympathized with the nonprofits, Rosier said the county had to make tough decisions to balance its budget. 

Commissioners did include $700,000 in the 2013 budget for a highway study on a western beltway segment for the Denver area.  

Rosier said the study could bring more than $1 billion in construction from the Colorado Department of Transportation, federal funds and public-private partnerships into Jeffco.

Some nonprofit advocates suggested raising the the county mill levy. However, Rosier said he didn't want to raise homeowners' taxes.

In 2012, the SRC served more than 22,000 people, 17,000 of whom were Jefferson County residents. The reduction in county funding will affect more than 3,000 Jeffco residents who rely on SRC services that will be discontinued, according to SRC spokesman Steve Grund.

"The lack of warning deepened the cut," Zabawa remarked.

 

Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.