After reading the Ashland Parks and Recreation Senior Program job descriptions for Senior Program superintendent and Senior Program support specialist — adding about $100,000 annually to the city’s salary expenses — all I could think of was, “if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” Ashland’s hole is a mix of its problematic financial status (caused by habitual overspending) and its equally problematic senior social aid services known as the Senior Center.
The usual cause of municipal overspending is said to be biased management decisions. The cause of Ashland’s Senior Center’s diminished capacity to accomplish its mission is the mayor/council decision to legitimize the Parks Department’s assumption of authority over the city’s established Senior Center. That program management decision might’ve been based on bias, as it wasn’t based on the city’s still-extant Resolution 2007-14. This was a mistake and has caused trouble — financial and otherwise.
Now APR is “allowing” the Senior Center to become a “separate” APR program under its director. That’s bad program management. Maybe the superintendent would be allowed to deal with this “separate” program to “enable fiscal stability, participant satisfaction, program growth, outreach, and inclusion,” but why spend the money to take the chance? The Senior Center, under its previous managers, had a 44-year proven record of doing just that. Logically, it should be returned to its previous separate management status and provided facilitation by an advisory board. No superintendent required.
APR should realize that their Senior Program specialist job description mentions no on-site qualified manager to define which support actions would be appropriate for each participant’s need(s). The position as defined seems to be a shared-time recreation aide with a hodgepodge of non-social services duties.
APR’s department together with the elected commission has the expertise and responsibility to “design, implement, evaluate,” an in-house Senior Program of recreation for ages 55 and up if one is actually needed for a city of population 20,500 (as of 2016).
Why doesn’t the city stop digging, grab a ladder, and get out of its hole?