As the discussion continues about how to fund a massive renovation to Rupp Arena, some community leaders say Lexington can't forget about the need for social services. Leaders within the city of Lexington's Department of Social Services, which oversees programs geared toward senior citizens, families, and youth at the Lexington Day Treatment Center, are making their case for more funding and support.
This week Social Services Commissioner Beth Mills told Urban County Council members that her budget represents only 2 percent of city government spending and the department cannot handle any more budget reductions.
"We are now at that point that if we need to cut further, we would probably shut down a program. Because we just can't everybody give a little bit anymore, we're just going to have to choose which program it is we would have to sacrifice."
Aging Services Administrator Kristina Stambaugh says the Lexington Senior Citizens Center on Nicholasville Road may have to start turning people away. She says exercise classes are packed and the dining room often at capacity.
"We regularly hear that without the center, they wouldn't have a place to come, they wouldn't get a nutritious meal, and they wouldn't have somebody checking on them and knowing their name."
Council members are beginning to organize link committees to review budget needs for the next fiscal year. When asked where Social Services' biggest needs are, Mills says her department needs more administrative support staff and people who can write applications for state and federal grants.
"You know we talk about Rupp Arena and we talk about all these fancy things. But when you talk about a senior citizens center and the biggest part of our population is going to be aging and needing those services over the next ten years, that's where we're missing the boat," said Councilman Kevin Stinnett.
Council member Julian Beard noted at the committee meeting that some of the city's 46 acres being discussed in the Rupp project could possibly be used for a new senior citizens center.