The Fairfax County Area Agency on Aging has decided to seek $36,000 from the County Board of Supervisors to forestall a cutback in programs and services for elderly Fairfax residents.
The agency is funded through the Title III Older Americans Act, which is administered by the Virginia Office on Aging. According to Donna Foster, agency director, this is the first time the agency has had to ask the supervisors for financial aid.
"We have never had to go to the board of supervisors for money for our programs," she said, "but we have to decide now whether we want to do this or we want to cut down on some of our programs."
At a meeting last week, the agency's County Commission on Aging, which recommends legislative and budgetary actions to the board, approved a "maintenance of effort" budget of $181,350 for fiscal 1979. At the same time, the commission decided to ask the supervisors for $36,000 to cover an expected deficit.
Foster said in an interview after the meeting that she was optimistic that the board would approve the request.
"They have been very supportive of senior citizen programs in the past and, although there are many things to weigh in terms of demand for resources, I think they will be disposed to have us continue the level of service we have been maintaining," she said.
The agency will ask the board for local funds through the matching grant program under the Older Americans Act, and the supervisors will not consider this kind of budget request until April.
Among the programs funded by the agency are senior nutrition centers, discount programs, dental clinics, Assist and Red Cross transportation services, information and referral of homemaker services and an employment service.
The proposed budget anticipates $118,120 in Title III funds and $27,430 carried over from fiscal 1978. The amount of Title III funds is the same as in the last fiscal year, when the agency received $92,922 in an initial appropriation and $25,198 in a supplemental appropriation.
Foster said the agency might be able to obtain additional Title III funds in 1979, but could not count on it.
In other business at the monthly meeting, the commission was presented the results of a survey of senior citizen priorities as viewed by agencies serving the elderly. With half of the questionnaires in, five items were listed as most important to the elderly: home care, health services, housing alternatives, financial assistance and transportation.
Commissioner Kathryn Brooks suggested a special property tax rate for senior citizens. She said many senior citizens find it difficult to pay increasingly high property taxes and that some are forced to sell their homes.
She asked the commission to propose to the county that senior citizens be allowed to defer their property tax obligations until their deaths or until they sold their homes.
"The deferred tax would accumulate with interest, so the county wouldn't lose anything," she said.
Chairman Claire Mueller said another solution would be a freeze on senior citizen property taxes. The frozen tax would be paid annually but any rate increases would be allowed to accumulate and be paid on the death of the owner or sale of the house.
The commission decided to have a committee study the question and recommend a position at the next meeting.
Meetings are held on the third Thursday of every month at Kings Park Library on Burke Lake Road.