MOUNT VERNON -- This year's Knox County senior levy dispersal led to a variety of recipients, and some thought-provoking comments from commissioners.
“We rarely talk about those who are marching toward the 100-age point, we need their wisdom, AND their guidance,” remarked Knox County Board of Commissioners President Bill Pursel.
On Tuesday, March 9 the Knox County Board of Commissioners met for their regular session and among the topics of conversation was the Senior Levy program.
The fund, which is dispersed via the Board of Commissioner’s discretion, is awarded to organizations who intend to serve people age 60 and above, groups that do not discriminate in any fashion, and organizations that work to provide seniors with necessities such as quality food, healthcare, and transportation.
The Senior Levy is funded by local property taxes and the money made available to the fund fluctuates year to year depending on the total value of collected property taxes. On Tuesday, the Board dispersed $1,154,811.00 to several organizations, more than $100,000 granted in 2020.
While the Board had been concerned that pandemic-related unemployment might lead to a significant decrease in available funds, Pursel thinks that the fund increase may be the result of residents using their stimulus checks to pay back taxes.
Once these funds are formally granted (as they were on Tuesday), organizations must sign a levy agreement that affirms they understand the program. As the year progresses, they are required to provide quarterly reports on their finances and activities, with the first burst of disbursement distributed in early April.
The Board’s auditor anticipates this year the fund will generate $154,811.00. However, if by the fourth quarter the Board realizes this predicted value may be lower than expected, the funds distributed will be adjusted accordingly.
Tuesday, Centerburg Senior Services, JFS-Adult Protective Services Division, Sanctuary Community Action, Center of Hope Knox County, Knox County Task Force for Older Adults, Sew Special Network dba: That Place on Market, and Station Break were awarded part of the Senior Levy.
While Fredericktown Senior Activity Center was notably missing from the grant request submissions, the Center was closed for part of last year in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. The money from their 2020 grant that was not spent on in-person services, is now being used to fund the Center’s 2021 activities.
Knox County Task Force for Older Adults requested only $10,000 this year, but the board instead, awarded them $25,000. Pursel explained that this organization has done exceptional work supporting Knox County farmers and seniors. The Task Force, which was established in late 2019, provides seniors with vouchers that allow them to purchase food from local vendors at the Knox County Summer Farmer’s Market.
Other organizations who were awarded money, similarly provide seniors with access to fresh food. Center of Hope, for example, has repurposed Bladensberg’s old elementary school building to provide local residents with access to fresh food.
Station Break also allocates their money for both meals on wheels and community meals programs in addition to providing seniors with income tax consultants and other services. Station Break serves the largest group of Senior Citizens in Knox County and has been a prominent organization within the Levy Fund’s 14 year history.
While some organizations receive the amount they requested or more, Centerburg’s Senior Services was awarded $233,000 instead of the $286,000 it had requested. Pursel stated this reduction was done in the hopes the difference would be made up in the organization’s pending application for a block grant. This grant, if awarded, would be put towards purchasing a food delivery truck.
The Senior Levy Fund continues to be a notable part of the Knox County community and will be on the ballot this upcoming November. At that time residents can decide whether they would still like their property taxes to be allocated for this program.
When describing the organizations who apply, Pursel noted that they are “frugal and creative and meeting the needs that need to be met. They don’t shy away from taking on challenges, if they think it needs to be done they’ll make it happen for these seniors.”