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Clifton Park plans to add senior department

In the face of a growing senior population and a shrinking pool of federal and state grants, Clifton Park plans to partner with the Shenendehowa Senior Center to form a town department dedicated to seniors as early as next year.

Councilman Tom Paolucci, one of two Republicans up for re-election this fall, announced the plan at a news conference at the senior center on Monday, Sept. 24. Also present were members of the town board and the senior center board.

Paolucci has been the liaison between the town board and the senior center since 2003.

We're here to announce today our intentions to work together to develop a plan that will develop and implement a town department, Paolucci said. "The board of the Shenendehowa Senior Citizens has unanimously agreed to partner with us in this endeavor to develop this plan that will transfer the responsibility of providing services to residents here in town."

According to a 2004 budget, the most recent information available at town hall, the senior center spent approximately $300,000 in 2004. Clifton Park contributed about $130,000 of that from budgeted town funds, with the rest coming from a combination of grants, contributions, and fundraisers.

Karl Siverling, the president of the senior center board, said that this partnership was not prompted by a financial problem.

"We see the need to begin to look at this next step in order to develop better programming, better services, going forward for our membership," Siverling said. "The center right now is in a very strong financial position."

Paolucci said that the plan will not increase the burden to Clifton Park taxpayers. Instead, he hopes the consolidation of resources created by the partnership will significantly reduce any additional costs associated with the town department.

"When we look at this, we think there are going to be certain efficiencies, and in effect there will be a shift to the town government," Paolucci said. "It's hard to get into the details because we haven't gotten to that level yet. What we think, with the efficiencies, we can come in around the same or a little more than we're spending right now. It will not increase taxes."

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