Editorial: Meals on Wheels debate a good reason to have lunch together
When both sides of a conflicting issue reach a stalemate, the best approach is to try a new approach.
And with the debate over adequacy of funding by the Town of Camp Verde for the Verde Valley Senior Center's meals on wheels program, there obviously needs to be a new approach in this meeting of the minds.
Senior Center Director Elaine Bremner has "politely but persistently" reminded the council that its $5,000 annual contribution (down about $7,500 from a few years ago) to the program absolutely does not cut it. "Politely but persistently" is the way the Camp Verde town manager describes Bremner's repeated requests for more money. Some other local observers have describe it as a guilt trip.
As for the council, its members have repeatedly asked for a detailed accounting of the VVSC revenue vs. costs to provide the service. The center, in turn, has responded with a bottom-line analysis that shows a $41,620 annual deficit for the Camp Verde area based on the costs to provide the service vs. revenue provided by NACOG, Town of Camp Verde and participating clients. Council members have stood firm in their request for detailed accounting vs. a basic bottom line.
Another part of the equation on how to best provide daily meals to homebound seniors involves the Camp Verde Senior Center. The Camp Verde center offers a noon lunch for area seniors, but has not taken the next step to provide a meals on wheels service. The senior center in Cottonwood has obligated itself to provide such a service for the whole Verde Valley by accepting Area Agency on Aging funding from the Northern Arizona Council of Governments. By contrast, the senior center in Camp Verde has managed to operate and provide its meal program without municipal or federal subsidies, and the government strings that come attached.
Another thing that has to be considered is the fact that the City of Cottonwood provides $55,000 in annual funding to the Verde Valley Senior Center. It would be a shame if folks in Cottonwood became convinced that their contributions were subsidizing the program in Camp Verde and cut back accordingly.
It's probably long overdue for the town and staffs from the two senior centers to sit down and devote their full attention to the issue of the homebound senior meal program in Camp Verde and Beaver Creek. What is the big picture financially? What are the logistics? Does it make sense for the Cottonwood-based senior center to run meals from one end of the Verde Valley to the other? Is there an opportunity for a partnership between the two senior centers to provide the service? What is the most cost-efficient way to provide this valuable service?
And while you're at it, all involved should have a sampling of the very product that's at the source of this debate.
Have lunch together.