Resident seeks funding for full-time Council on Aging director
A resident who will seek $70,000 for a full-time Council on Aging director at Annual Town Meeting learned on Tuesday that his request, if approved, may result in the loss of the current, part-time director.
Frank Urciuoli, who moved to Onset in 2016, will ask for the the funds through a citizen’s petition at Town Meeting. Those petitions, which require the signatures of 10 registered voters, allow any resident to get an item on the meeting’s agenda.
Urciuoli said he was motivated to seek the funds after discovering that Wareham’s budget has no dedicated line item for the Council on Aging. A variety of state and federal grant funds are used for some services.
Urciuoli said a full-time director would provide valuable services for the town’s estimated 8,000 seniors.
“I think your parents, great-grandparents and the elderly couple living next door are worth that small amount,” Urciuoli told Selectmen on Tuesday.
Director Missy Dziczek was hired in 2016 using funds from a one-year grant provided by the state. After the grant ended, she has remained working for the town part-time.
Town Administrator Derek Sullivan said the arrangement, while not ideal, is working well for both Wareham and Dziczek, who has impressed the Council on Aging and those it serves.
Dziczek told Sullivan she wishes to stay on in her part-time role until a full-time director is hired.
“She wants to stay…Is the motive to make a statement or remove her and get a full-time director?” Sullivan asked Urciuoli.
Urciuoli didn’t have answer directly, but noted that using grants to fund the director’s salary isn’t a permanent solution.
“Who is going to come to a job knowing it might not be there next year?” said Urciuoli.
Sullivan said he appreciated Urciuoli’s concern, but didn’t believe the situation was fully explained to him before he submitted the item for Town Meeting’s agenda.
Annual Town Meeting is set for April 23 at 7 p.m. in the Wareham High School auditorium. All registered voters may participate.