Letter to the Editor: Mixed Messages To Seniors

Letter to the Editor: Mixed Messages To Seniors

To the Editor:

In 2012, the City Council unanimously approved the city’s strategic plan on aging. The plan supports the goal of most older Alexandria residents to age in place, in their homes and in the community they love.

The city manager’s proposed budget threatens to undermine the ability of many residents to stay in the city. The budget calls for termination of Senior Taxi; imposition of steep cuts in property tax relief for older or disabled homeowners; and termination of JobLink’s program providing employment assistance for older job seekers.

The City Council should reconsider the proposal to eliminate Senior Taxi, which provides discounted transportation to medical appointments and other services for seniors with low and modest incomes. Without the program, which is now in its 46th year, many of our friends and neighbors will not be able to obtain the care they need.

The City Council should reject the budget cuts that would deprive 400 current recipients of the real estate tax relief program for lower-income seniors and those with disabilities. Many recipients are long-time residents who have contributed significantly to the city’s economy and have paid real estate taxes for many years. The tax burden will force them to choose between paying their taxes, filling their prescriptions — or leaving their homes.

The city should retain the Older Worker Employment Specialist at JobLink to help unemployed seniors find gainful employment. In addition, the Commission on Aging has identified a shortfall of $36,000 in funding to provide guardians for eight residents who are living in dire circumstances.

Alexandria has always been a community that cares about its seniors and takes great pride in being able to help those in need. The final budget adopted by the City Council should reflect our shared commitment to its older residents, particularly those with limited financial resources.

Jane King, Chair, Alexandria Commission on Aging

Robert Eiffert, Chair, Advocacy Committee, Commission on Aging