Four years ago when I was elected First Selectman, tax relief for Canton’s seniors was one of my top priorities. One of the first steps I took was to create a Task Force to develop a proposal for Senior Tax Relief. That effort resulted in the adoption of a Town Ordinance to provide senior property tax relief to assist our most needy seniors.
Another priority was to enhance the delivery of vital services to our seniors. Today our senior/social services program includes a services coordinator and part-time administrative assistant who provide comprehensive services and programs to the Town’s senior population in order to promote physical, emotional, social and intellectual well-being. Activities focus on public health and wellness, education, transportation, socialization, recreational and volunteer opportunities. The Senior Services Department acts as an important information and referral source for both the Town’s seniors and their families.
In addition, a top priority for our new Police Chief has been to develop programs to further assist our senior population. The Chief has worked closely with the Senior Service staff and today is developing a TRIAD program to reduce the criminal victimization of older senior citizens and enhance the delivery of services to this population. TRIAD provides the opportunity for an exchange of information between law enforcement, support services and senior citizens. It focuses on reducing unwarranted fear of crime and improving the quality of life for seniors.
Unfortunately, my opponent for First Selectman has been quoted that he will prioritize funding based on a department’s critical service responsibility. His example of critical services for seniors is “transportation to doctors and grocery shopping, visiting nurse.” He proposes reductions in personnel and hours of operation within what he has described as non-critical areas of Town government. That is not acceptable. I will not allow what my opponent considers existing non-critical senior services to be reduced. In the past three years, the Board of Selectmen budgets have been reduced without the need to reduce senior services.
We need to continue our fiscally conservation budgeting policies but it should not be at the expense of the drastic type of service cuts my opponent seeks to enact.
Our seniors deserve the continuation of the current services we provide them. I will not consider their needs “non-essential.”
Approved by Richard J. Barlow