Council Says 'No' to Senior Center Funding

Aaron Selbig

     The Homer Senior Center is feeling the financial pinch of hooking up its large facility to natural gas. The center has already received $100,000 in state money toward a gas conversion project but at Monday’s meeting of the Homer City Council, it was asking for another $100,000 from the city. 

     Keren Kelley is executive director of Homer Senior Citizens, Incorporated. She requested the funding in an April 22nd letter to the city council. In that letter, Kelley said it is “unconscionable” that the city financially supports the Pratt Museum and the South Peninsula Haven House but not the Senior Center.

     Kelley was backed by several local seniors when she made her case before the Homer City Council Monday night. She said the Homer Senior Center is a locally run organization that adds $1.7 million dollars and 38 jobs to the Homer economy. 

     The senior center has already received a $100,000 appropriation in next year’s state budget toward the gas conversion project. Kelley said additional funding could be “leveraged” from the Kenai Peninsula Borough if the city would contribute $100,000.

     Kelley also provided a cost estimate, saying the conversion of the senior center to natural gas would cost more than $500,000. Much of that cost, she said, is due to the fact that the facility is currently heated with electricity.

     Council members David Lewis and Bryan Zak were supportive of the measure, saying many other cities have their senior services as a budget line item.

     But as it turned out, Zak and Lewis were in the minority on the issue. The other four council members all voted against spending the money. The final vote was 4 to 2 against.