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Unnamed donor saves senior center -- for now

December 11, 2011

MILLVILLE — With the senior center slated to shut its doors on Dec. 31 due to budget cuts, town senior advocates may have dodged a bullet and won a temporary reprieve in the wake of the news that an unidentified sum of money has been bequeathed to the center from the estate of an unnamed source.
That was the good news delivered to the Board of Selectmen last week when senior center Director Carol Smith appeared before the board to request that the town's legal counsel determine if the estate monies can be used by the Millville Council on Aging to fund the center and keep it open.
During the meeting, Smith read aloud excerpts from the unnamed decedent’s last will and testament, which has left an undisclosed sum of money for the senior center.
On a motion by Selectman John M. Laura and seconded by Roland P. Barrett, the board unanimously voted to approve and sign the request for legal services.
During her meeting with selectmen, Smith also asked whether or not the senior center can use the funds that were set aside for a new generator to fund the operations for the remainder of the fiscal year. The board tabled a decision on that request until it receives advice from town counsel.
In a related matter, Executive Secretary Helen Coffin advised the board that the senior center van transportation agreement expires in June and that the board will need to determine whether this will be funded.
During the public forum segment of the meeting, resident Ken Therrien of 84 Ironstone St. said he supported the senior center and its many services but questioned what the town is doing to attract more businesses to increase tax revenue.
The senior center is slated to close on Dec. 31 due to budget cuts and a decision by voters in June to reject two Proposition 2½ override ballot questions. Had the overrides passed, it would have meant annual property tax increases of between $247 and $675 depending on a home's assessment.
Town residents actually approved two budgets at the Annual Town Meeting in May. The first was contingent upon the passing of the two override questions and totals $4,858,833.
The second budget totals $4,697,987 and took effect on July 1 after the override questions were rejected.
The difference of approximately $160,850 between the two budgets, includes, but was not limited to, additional funding of $100,000 for the Blackstone-Millville Regional School District; $20,000 for the Millville Senior Center; and $30,000 for the Millville Free Public Library.
As a result of the two questions being defeated at the polls, the senior center was only budgeted to remain open for six months, through Dec. 31.
The prospect of having to close the senior center, which is less than five years old, is painful for many of the town's older residents.
Millville senior citizens waited a long time to have a building to call their own," Millville resident Lois Salome said over the summer. She, along with other members of the Millville Senior Club, started a Save the Senior Center fundraising campaign. It was created by the group because state law prohibits Smith and members of the Millville Council on Aging from participating in fundraising events.
According to Salome, general donations can be made any time by making a check payable to the Millville Senior Center Save the Senior Center Campaign, 40 Prospect Street, Millville, MA 01529.

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