$80,000 request for full-time Council on Aging director shot down at Wareham Town Meeting
The Council on Aging will continue to operate under a part-time director after one resident’s effort to fund the position full-time was defeated at Town Meeting on Monday.
Frank Urciuoli, who moved to Onset in 2016, requested through a citizen’s petition that the town spend $80,000 to fund the position. Any voter can place an item on the Town Meeting agenda via petition by securing the signatures of 10 registered voters.
Urciuoli said he was motivated to seek the money after discovering that Wareham’s budget has no funds specifically dedicated for the Council on Aging. A variety of state and federal grants are used to fund some services. Council activities, which include meals, classes and more, are held in the basement of the Multi-Service Center on Marion Road.
“I think your parents, great-grandparents and the elderly couple living next door are worth that small amount,” said Urciuoli.
Town officials said there simply wasn’t any money left in the budget. Town Administrator Derek Sullivan noted that after voters defeated a measure in 2012 that would have raised taxes to fund town departments, the message was clear.
“We’ve heard from the town before that they don’t want to give us money for services such as this,” said Sullivan.
Current 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, roughly 10 hours a week. 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.
At Town Meeting, Dziczek said a full-time director would be able to provide services not currently available.
“There is a whole lot we’re not doing,” she said. “We would be able to offer many more programs, get more grants and do a lot more than what we do now.”
Sullivan said residents and officials will have to explore other options for funding the position in a sustainable, affordable way.