Council pledges support for seniors’ services

Michael PhilippsSouth Western Times

Bunbury City Council voted unanimously to provide financial support for the struggling Meals on Wheels and Senior Citizens Centre Association.

At its meeting last Tuesday night the council voted to provide $25,000 from its unallocated 2017-18 closing surplus to support the centre.

Council also requested that the centre establish a working group to develop a business plan to improve its future financial viability.

According to a centre report, up until 2015 it received $100,000 in funding from Home and Community Care but the actual funding should have only been between $35,000 and $40,000.

This over-funding covered up the centre’s true operational costs.

In 2015, 2016 and 2017 the centre sustained a loss of $68,000, $16,000 and $50,000 respectively and it does not have the financial capacity to cover a budgeted operating loss of $46,000 in 2018.

Centre treasurer Jacinta Thomson was invited to speak to the council where she urged councillors to vote with compassion.

“We are a non-profit service and we offer a service to the community and surrounding areas,” she said.

“The staff, both paid and unpaid, go well above their duty to assist our clients.

“Our clients treat us more like a family than a business.”

Ms Thomson said she hoped the council would recognise the work her clients had put into the local community.

“These are also people who have already given everything,” she said.

“They have worked in the community for decades, been involved in sporting clubs and community groups. Now it is their turn to be looked after and that is what we do.”

Cr Tresslyn Smith implored the council to support her motion to provide $25,000 to the centre.

“What kind of city would we be if we don’t support and look after our senior citizens,” she said.

“I think the fact there will be a working group in place will put the centre on track financially.

“There are a lot of good people over there so I urge my fellow councillors to support this recommendation.”

Cr Murray Cook echoed the sentiments of Cr Smith. “I am a great friend of the seniors centre and I have been for six years,” he said.

“This is not a backward looking move but a forward looking move so I urge you to support it.”

There were no speakers against the motion.

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