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COA executive director speaks on proposed tax

by Minden Press-Herald

Dear Editor:

Toward the end of this year, the Webster Parish Council on Aging (WPCOA) will ask voters to approve a small property tax of 1.75 mills.  I humbly ask for your support.

For those that aren’t familiar, the WPCOA is a non-profit/quasi-governmental organization. Our mission is to help our parish seniors stay self-sufficient for as long as possible so that they can live a productive life in their own home.  We serve all seniors in Webster parish, ages 60 and older. 

Our services include providing 42,000 frozen meals to our meals-on-wheels clients over the past fiscal year (July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024), with a few more to add before we close the books.  This marks a 39% increase in our MOW program over the past two years. Our congregate meal program has provided almost 14,000 meals during the same time frame, giving our seniors not only a balanced meal, but also social contact.

Another daily service is light housekeeping for shut-ins, and we have provided more than 3,000 units this year. 

Our revenue includes Title III funding from the federal government, matched by the state, PCOA (Parish Councils on Aging) funding, NSIP funding, a police jury stipend, and a city of Minden stipend.  The city of Springhill generously allows us rent and utility-free, in-kind use of our northern senior center.  Also, over the past three years, we have received Covid-related grants averaging around $90,000. 

Even with the pandemic era grants in 2022-2024, we spent $16,000, $72,000, and $30,000 from our reserves in those years, respectively.  In the fiscal year 2025, there will be no additional funding and our revenue budget will return to 2020 levels.  This will, quite frankly, be devastating to our programs.  With the need for our meals-on-wheels program continually growing, and inflation at a three-year combined rate of nearly 20%, we need additional revenue just to cover our budget shortfall.  

Defending taxes is hard. I know. All I can do is provide the information necessary for each voter to make an informed decision.  I plan to post a series of articles on our Facebook page outlining exactly for which the tax will be used and why we need the funding. 

Our employees work very hard for our clients.  We do a lot of good in the community with a relatively small amount of tax money.  All I ask is that each of you do your own homework. I think that you would be amazed to see what we accomplish daily.  If you have any questions about any of our operations, please call me.  My office is always open.

Sincerely,

Claude L. “Johnny” Johnson, Jr.Executive Director

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