Letters to the Editor

Senior center: Fees are unfair

In as much as this will be our final letter to this newspaper, we’ll direct our comments toward the “Sound Off” column by Mr. Bill Cornell on the subject of the Oak Harbor Senior Center.

To begin, our dictionary defines mandatory as “obligatory,” meaning it applies to all concerned. Otherwise, how can it be obligatory? But, sir, after stating that a “membership” fee would be “mandatory,” you went on to list a raft of exemptions. Perhaps the column heading should have read “Why some seniors must pay fees” instead of “Why seniors must pay some fees.”

Seniors frequenting the center do pay fees, Mr. Cornell. They pay fees for classes, lessons, meals, dances, trips and many other activities we probably don’t even know about. The examples we gave in our first letter were simply what could happen if membership did indeed become “mandatory.”

We did not suggest that the center be run with just volunteers, but we know of about six other senior centers in this part of the state that manage quite well with only one paid director who delegates some of the necessary work to willing volunteers. As you said, sir, the center could not run without volunteers, and they are worth their weight in gold, no matter what they do.

What makes you think that governments are the only ones experiencing budget woes, Mr. Cornell? Do you and the other advisors believe that the average seniors (and young folks, too) are exempt from this problem? Wake up and smell the coffee! Citizens vote against taxes, because they are fed up with being bled out of their savings and fed up with the waste which is often quite obvious. Most citizens don’t have the option of a “three to five year financial forecast.” They pull in their belts from month to month, because there is no one to tap for financing. Maybe the OHSC should consider doing the same.

Our point, sir, is that the center is basically a tax supported facility and, as such, should not be treated as a private club. If the city of Oak Harbor wants the center as a private club, then take it off the tax rolls. But mandatory “membership”? According to one letter writer, the $15 goes toward receiving the newsletter by mail. For those who wish to indulge this privilege, no problem, because those who do not pay do not get the newsletter mailed to them. As a voluntary fee, this works fine, but mandatory “membership”? Give us a break!

Apparently that $15 fee has nothing to do with the actual “maintenance and operations” of the center, and just when did the center become a “small, worn-out facility?” (For shame!)

No one would fault the board for reviewing and updating the rental policy and schedule of charges, but please don’t label that $15 as mandatory “membership.” Call it what it is, a fee for the privilege of having the newsletter mailed to you.

By the way, any time you’d like to meet these awful people with a “tax” to grind, you’ll find us at the center for band rehearsal almost every Thursday around 4:30 p.m.

Roger W. and Maude Morris

Sedro-Woolley

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