Millage renewal would help continue services to older citizens in Midland

Millage renewal would help continue services to older citizens in Midland

A millage renewal request is on the Aug. 2 ballot to help fund services provided to senior citizens in Midland County.

The millage allows the Council on Aging to provide essential resources to adults older than 60, including counseling, care coordination, handyman services, home care, meals on wheels, transportation and more. The tax levied on property owners in Midland will cost up to $0.90 per $1,000 of taxable value. The levy would be applied to homeowners until 2026. If renewed, the tax is estimated to raise $3,350,530 in its first year. 

Charlie Schwedler, executive director of the Council on Aging, also referred to as Senior Services, said he is hopeful that voters will recognize the value the agency brings to the Midland community.

“I would encourage people to really understand what it is that we do, and understand that we are a community agency that is absolutely necessary,” he said. “If they really look at who we are and what it is that we do, I think they will find it very easy to vote ‘yes’ on this millage.”

Schwedler said these essential services could not be provided to the community without the money from the millage. 

“I would say somewhere around 60% of our funding comes from the millage,” Schwedler said. 

He said other funding comes from federal or state resources. Holly Miller is the President and CEO of United Way, which has invested in Senior Services’ Meals on Wheels program. The two entities have also partnered on the Friendly Connections Program, which helps to combat loneliness and create connections among older adults in Midland. 

“It has really been a true asset to our community during the pandemic, to have not only food, which was a scarcity in the initial days of the pandemic, but that connection to other people,” Miller said. “They have played such a huge role in helping our senior community stay connected during this difficult chapter in history.”

Senior Services built a reputation of resilience in Midland during the peak of the pandemic and throughout the aftermath of the flood by acting as a community partner to make sure older adults were being taken care of. 

“We never stopped feeding people, even during shutdowns. We never stopped feeding people during the flood. In fact, we added to the roles because people temporarily needed Meals on Wheels,” Schwedler said. “We didn’t back down during that time. We pivoted, we made sure that older adults were served, and we’re pretty proud of what we’ve done.”

After the flood, Miller said United Way helped Schwedler for several months to operate distribution centers, which provided the community with food, water, and “anything and everything they would need for their personal recovery.”

“Our community has supported this (millage) in the past, and that is what has created this impact,” Miller said. “This millage ensures that that level of service continues.” 

Miller said the network of services provided by the Council on Aging is “amazing.”

“I think we do it better than any other community in the state,” she said. 

Senior Services offers an adult health day center for people struggling with things such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, or strokes. It also provides day-to-day services, such as exercise classes and educational classes. 

“We are so much more than many people realize,” Schwedler said of Senior Services. “(We) keep people engaged, we fight loneliness, we do all these things, just to keep folks being their best selves for as long as possible.”

Schwedler said the Council on Aging only requests what it needs from the millage and won’t ask for more unless it is absolutely necessary. 

“We are very cognizant of the hard-earned money that this is for people to give to us, so we’re not going to frivolously spend any dime,” he said. “I think people know that they can count on us and other community partners know that they can count on Senior Services to do what’s right and do what’s fair. And again, to be really good stewards of taxpayer money.”

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