Cobb Senior Citizen Council urges removal of senior center fees

June Van Brackle, president of the Cobb County Senior Citizen Council, speaks at the Cobb County BOC Nov 27 meeting (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)June Van Brackle, president of the Cobb County Senior Citizen Council, speaks at the Cobb County BOC Nov 27 meeting (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

At the November 27 meeting of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners, June Van Brackle, president of the Senior Citizen Council of Cobb County asked the commissioners to remove the fees for use of Cobb’s senior centers. The fees were put in place early in the year as a measure to address the budget shortfall after the proposed 2017 millage rate increase failed to pass.  This year a millage rate increase passed the BOC.

“I’ve been president for about 11 months, and every board meeting I have, the issue of Cobb County Senior Services fees comes up,” Van Brackle said. “On our board are members from each of the five multi-purpose centers. I’ve had the privilege in the last couple of months to visit each one of those centers along with some of your staff to talk about other fees for rentals and things like that. But at each center the issue of the fees came up.”

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She said that the fees had caused a drop in membership at the centers from around 5,000 to approximately 3,000.

“So we have five buildings around here that are half-underutilized because of these fees.”

“The centers are primarily used by the 65-and-older people,” she said. “More than 75 percent of these people who use the centers are women. many of whom are widows or divorcees who live on a limited fixed income. Access to the senior centers are often their only outlet for them to socialize and to connect with their contemporaries.”

Cobb County BOC Chairman Michael Boyce said to Van Brackle, “I’d like for you to do me a favor, (and) come to the December 10 retreat.  I think we’ll have some good news for you.”

He said that seniors were not the only demographic affected by fees, and that there was a scholarship for people who couldn’t afford the senior center fees.

“We hear you, and I think this year with the budget that was passed this summer, we might be able to have a solution on December 10 that you’ll like hearing, with the understanding that it still has to be approved by board next summer,” Boyce said.

The Senior Citizen Council of Cobb County issued the following press release:

June Van Brackle, president of the Senior Citizen Council of Cobb County, spoke at the November 27 Cobb County Commissioners’ meeting of her concern over the continuing decrease in participation at the five Senior Services Centers. In 2018, an annual membership fee was assessed of $60 for each individual senior to engage in center activities. Before the fee, approximately 6,500 seniors participated yearly. Now it is believed that less than 3,000 seniors are utilizing the centers. This fee was levied without discussion or consultation with the seniors who were attending the centers. These centers are one of the few neighborhood outlets for socialization and community activities for persons in this age group. The Senior Citizen Council of Cobb is urging the Board of Commissioners to eliminate these mandatory fees.

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Larry Felton Johnson
Larry Felton Johnson is the editor and publisher of the Cobb County Courier. He holds a degree in journalism from Georgia State University and enjoys exploring the county's trail and greenway network when he isn't covering county government meetings and court proceedings.

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