Clovis News

Clovis tries to save money

Clovis city officials will soon consider whether to transfer management of the senior services division to the Clovis Memorial District to save money for the city.

The plan is being considered as the city deals with a $5.3 million budget shortfall going into the new budget year that begins in July.

Such a move would save a maximum of $300,000 annually.

Council members were advised in the city's financial forecast that public and private partners would be sought to continue senior services. The forecast also warned that senior center operating hours would be curtailed and programs reduced unless volunteers can supplement staffing.

"We are looking for alternatives so it's a win-win for everybody and that includes the taxpayer," Council Member Bob Whalen said. "If there is something we can do to enhance senior services without impacting the budget it's something, as a council, we should consider."

Memorial district officials say they want to assist the city but are not likely to pick up salaries of six full- and part-time city employees.

"We would like to do everything we can to help them maintain the [senior] center," said Tom Wright, Clovis Memorial District board chairman.

The district, which has property next to the senior center, might be able to share usage of the senior center as well as costs and revenues, Wright said.

"We always have a need for extra rooms and we can use it for some of our space," he said.

He said the district could use its own workers to maintain the building, especially after space has been booked for a district event.

The district is supported through a property-tax assessment paid by residents living in Clovis, Fresno and foothill areas. Its downtown Clovis facilities are available to veterans organizations and residents of the district for banquets and small gatherings.

Under state regulations, the district can undertake programs for veterans and senior citizens, said Bruce Thiesen, the district's chief executive officer.

He said the district has told the city it is willing to examine the idea but that the board has not met to discuss it.

Clovis Mayor Harry Armstrong said he wants to protect the senior center users.

If the memorial district takes over senior services, "they would have to guarantee to me that they would run the program for a long period of time," he said.

For some senior residents, Armstrong said, the senior center is their only contact with friends.

"It's the only place where some of those people can get one hot meal a day, and it's the only time some people can get out of the house and mingle," he said.