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City moves on senior services

BY DANIEL SEIDL | FEBRUARY 19, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa City City Council decided to increase senior services in Iowa City on Tuesday despite dissent from some councilors and Senior Center commissioners.

The council passed a resolution creating an ad-hoc Senior Services Committee, which will be in charge with evaluating current senior services and making recommendations to the council on what action to take. The resolution passed by a vote of 5-2, with Councilors Terry Dickens and Kingsley Botchway opposing.

The main senior services provided by the city are from the Senior Center. Several Senior Center commissioners expressed their concerns about the new panel.

“We’re very concerned about the timing of the ad-hoc committee,” said Jay Honohan, the head of the Senior Center Commission. “I urge [the council] not to adopt this resolution tonight and have a survey done throughout the city before the ad-hoc committee is formed.”

The Senior Center Commission had requested the city perform a community survey of senior services before moving forward with a committee. The council alleviated some of the commission's concerns by first saying the committee would serve much of the same purpose as a community survey and may even lead to this type of survey in the near future.

“I think having the committee [members] look at what information they need and what kind of survey they may or may not need [would be beneficial],” said Councilor Susan Mims.

Dickens disagreed and opposed the resolution because he believed a survey was necessary before the council could proceed.

“We need to do a survey before we go ahead,” he said. “I think we should defer until we do that.”

The council agreed that the senior center already provides fine services, though it may not be able to keep up with a growing and diversifying senior population in Iowa City.

“The purpose [of the committee] is to look at changes in the senior population,” Councilor Jim Throgmorton said. “[Our] senior population is [becoming] much more diverse.”

Botchway disagreed with some of the wording of the resolution, which states at least one member of the council will serve on the committee. Botchway proposed an amendment to have this particular language removed from the resolution; it failed with a 4-3 vote.

Botchway felt having a councilor be required to serve on the committee would remove a spot that could be occupied by someone from the aging Iowa City community.

“I just felt like it was a situation where, [the councilors] interests are already represented on council,” he said. “I would like to see that position filled by one of the affected people.”


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