Spending Cuts Could Impact Area Senior Services - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Spending Cuts Could Impact Area Senior Services

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Washoe County is bracing to hear exactly what kinds of cuts they could be looking at if the sequestration in Washington, D.C. goes through. County Manager Katy Simon says no matter how you look at it, more cuts to the county's budget will be devastating.

"We have cut 30% from our budget in the past few years because of the economy and adding another 8% to that, which is what federal officials are asking. It will mean impacts on everyone in the county from law enforcement to block grants for improvements to senior services."

Simon says that even days before such cuts could be imposed, no one in Washington is giving details - which means there is no contingency plan. And she says it will be a while before one could materialize.

"Any cuts will be handed to the states. Then the state will have to decide what it will fund and what it will pass on to the counties. Then, when we have facts, we can sit down and figure out where those cuts will be made. But not only are we the ones to be affected, we aren't being given the latitude to decide where to cut. The state will have that. So our hands are tied. And the most vulnerable of our citizens, the seniors could see the most impact," Simon says.

Simon is referring to cuts that if made to the senior and senior food services, could be devastating.

"For us, an 8% cut to services here would mean 20,000 fewer meals we could serve in a year. And 20% of the seniors who come here, this is their only meal of the day," says Grady Tarbutton, Executive Director of Washoe County's Senior Center in Reno. "It would probably mean we'd have to cut back on the meals we deliver and the in-home checks and that would just be horrible for our seniors."

"Coming here is a reason to get a lot of seniors out of the house every day," says Joann Awvie, who is on oxygen full time. "They feed us here, they have programs to help us and we depend on it."

"I don't know what I'd do if we didn't have this place to come to eat," says Pate Whitehill, another veteran of the senior center. "There are people who come here just to eat and pick up bread and some of the food that stores leave. But it's like a family here. And it would be shame if it weren't here for us."

For now, Simon says it's still a waiting game. If a continuing resolution on funding isn't passed in Washington by Friday, she expects to begin getting guidelines on cuts and will go from there.

Written by Erin Breen

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