Editorial: Cost certain, benefits unclear

We've been supportive of efforts to overhaul the city's Senior Program, and willing to wait for the ad hoc committee to come out with recommendations for improvements. But the committee now appears to be boosting the program's payroll far beyond what it is now, at nearly double the cost, for unspecified reasons.

The committee on Monday approved adding 1.5 staff positions, including a "superintendent," while keeping a full-time coordinator on the job as well. Why a second full-time management position is needed is not yet clear.

The Senior Center's existing payroll is $151,000, which pays for 1.25 full time equivalent staff positions. At least $125,000 more would be needed to increase the staff to 2.75 positions. Parks Director Michael Black says that money can be found in the existing budget, but Parks Commissioner Mike Gardiner warned that cuts would have to be made in other areas to cover the increased cost. Where those cuts would occur has not been specified. Black said he expects revenue to increase as the program expands, but again, no details have been provided.

What the expanded staff will do, or what enhancements are expected in the Senior Program have not been specified. The ad hoc committee is expected to present a complete report to the Parks and Recreation Commission in April or May.

Increasing program offerings to the city's growing senior population is a fine goal. But it's not at all clear that a new layer of executive management is required to accomplish that.

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