Editorial: Committee is listening

It looks as though the Senior Program Advisory Committee has been listening carefully to residents' concerns about the future of the Ashland Senior Center, despite harsh criticism from center clients and supporters.

The committee on Monday approved a proposed job description for the Senior Center's manager that would expand the position's duties and boost the manager's salary, which may be somewhat ambitious, given the city's already-stretched budget. But the committee also recommended overturning a move by the Parks and Recreation Department to put the center under the Recreation Division of the Parks and Recreation Department.

Noting that expanding the manager's duties to include long-term strategic planning and coordination with governmental and nonprofit agencies, among other things, could require a higher salary, Committee Chairwoman Jackie Bachman suggested boosting the center's $150,000 personnel budget by as much as $100,000. That could be a tough sell, given a recent expenditure for a new Lithia Park master plan and the city's struggles to pay for more police officers.

The center manager needs to run an efficient operation, and some expansion of services and programs may be warranted, but creating a new upper management level position isn't necessarily required to accomplish that.

The committee's most significant recommendation is to reverse the Parks Department's decision to move the center under the Recreation Division and instead place it in its own division. That's a response critics should welcome.

The Parks and Recreation Commission will have the final say. Until then, the committee's work continues and deserves support.


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