EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

December 21, 2013

Lawmakers want county to keep senior daycare

Senior daycare

(Continued)

The commissioners said they reached their decision after a years-long effort to improve finances and participation, including an intensive effort to boost enrollment this year.

"It has limped along far below capacity for years," Pratt said.

They fell short of a goal to have average daily participation at 80 percent of the 27-person capacity.

Legislators didn't provide any help when commissioners were making an effort to improve the program, Coyle said.

"Really, we should be working together," he said. "They want it their way."

It was legislators, meanwhile, who pressed commissioners starting several years ago to put the program in a break-even situation, Pratt said.

"They fired the shot across our bow," she said.

Then, when commissioners took steps to preserve the program, legislators accepted those initiatives.

"They embraced it right along with us," Pratt said.

The lawmakers dispute the commissioners' view of finances, maintaining it would only take $45,000 to keep the program operating.

"We don't feel they are right," Griffin said. "You can't write off people's lives." .

But Pratt said the program requires more money, including the need to replace a bus that would cost at least $30,000 more.

Rep. Kevin Waterhouse, R-Windham, agrees with Griffin.

"We are very disappointed. Two people out of the whole county made this decision," Waterhouse said. "It's not taking care of our most vulnerable."

Waterhouse appealed to citizens to call the commissioners and let them know they value the program.

One possibility is the program could close at year's end because that's what commissioners have decided, with legislators pushing to revive it during budget deliberations next year.

"It's very possible," Waterhouse said. "I hope the first step is to use the budget process to make sure they know we want this program funded. They can close the program. It's up to us to convince them or a future commission to reopen it."

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