The Duncan Banner
The five senior nutrition centers in Stephens County are getting the smallest take from a new sales-tax increase, but officials say the extra money will go a long way.
That is especially so given recent government funding cuts to programs that help the centers provide meals — and fellowship — to thousands of folks aged 60 and over each week.
“It can mean extra things on their plates, or even new plates,” said Dan Lowrance, nutrition project director for Delta Community Action, a non-profit community agency that helps run four of the five centers in Stephens County. “It really helps our budgets.”
Stephens County voters overwhelmingly approved an additional 0.15 percent sales tax in November to provide money for the 12 fire departments in the county — most of them all-volunteer — and the five nutrition centers.
The tax went into effect in April and raised more than $83,000 for that month.
The 12 fire departments each get an equal share of the money, or about $6,434 each from April’s collections. The senior centers will split one-13th of the money based on how many meals are served.
The Stephens County Commissioners decided Monday to get a count on meals served at each center every three months and divide the sales tax money on a percentage basis.
Based on previous counts, of the $6,434 taken in for the centers in April, the Duncan North site would get the most — $2,319.
Comanche, which served the second most meals, would get $1,390, followed by Marlow at $1,167, Duncan South at $777 and Velma at $776.
All five centers get some funding through the Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments (ASCOG), but Velma is the only one in which meals are not provided through the Delta Nutrition program.
Ken Jones, ASCOG’s director of supportive services, said the extra money is very helpful.
“Even a small amount is huge for us,” he said.
Lowrance said the total annual budget for the Duncan North Center is $99,000. If its sales-tax take in April was the same each month, it would get an additional $27,820 per year.
The total budget for the center in Comanche is $74,788. It could collect more than $16,000 yearly from the sales tax.
The money cannot be spent on salaries, but it could be used to purchase coffee or tea or condiments — items that state grant programs will not cover. The centers also could use the money for equipment, or even Wii video games seniors could play.
“The other great thing is those funds can accumulate, so if they wanted to look down the line and spend it on a new stove they could do that,” Lowrance said.