Gov. Bob McDonnell's proposed cuts to adult services have local nonprofit organizations fearing that programs, such as meals delivered to homes and transportation, will be eliminated for lack of funding.
McDonnell proposes cutting $2.5 million over the next biennium from adult services funding through a budget amendment released on May 5. The cut was among a package of $43.9 million in amendments to the spending plan passed by the General Assembly in April. McDonnell said through a spokesman that he recognizes the good work being done by local nonprofits such as Peninsula Agency on Aging and Bay Aging on the Middle Peninsula.
The agencies' funding, like that for school divisions and other services, is based on formulas tied to the state population served by the organizations according to the U.S. census, said Jeff Caldwell, a McDonnell spokesman.
"Recent census numbers showed a smaller growth rate of Virginians in certain areas who are eligible for these types of services," Caldwell said. "In short, the formula's purpose is to shift a portion of the funding from areas with no or slow elderly population growth, and reallocate those funds to areas with higher growth rates.
Caldwell said McDonnell's budget amendment simply adjusts for and reflects the smaller population growth rate in some areas.
Bill Massey, chief executive officer of Peninsula Agency on Aging, said the cuts come at a time when nonprofits such as his are struggling to meet the needs in the communities they serve. The average age of the people Peninsula Agency on Aging serves is the late 70s, he said.
A typical day sees Meals on Wheels volunteers delivering 500 meals to Peninsula residents. McDonnell's cuts could affect that service and many others, Massey said.
The move to slash millions from the budget assisting older adults in need comes on the heels of the merger of the state's Department of Rehabilitative Services and Department of Aging, which Massey said he feared would diminish the importance and effect of services to elderly.
"This doesn't do anything to ameliorate my fears," Massey said.
On the Middle Peninsula, Kathy Vesley-Massey, president and chief executive officer of Bay Aging, said the four oldest counties in Virginia by median age are served by her organization. Vesley-Massey cited a May 1 letter from McDonnell that praised the work of organizations such as Bay Aging.
The organizations "assist older Virginians and their caregivers through services and supports that are critical to their independence and well being," according to the letter.
But by 2014, Bay Aging's state funds will have been cut in half — a drop of about $3 million over a four-year period — even as the ranks of senior citizens swell, Vesley-Massey said.
"These reductions will eliminate Adult Day Health services and reduce Meals on Wheels and senior transportation," Vesley-Massey said. "Federal dollars will also be lost with this reduction in state funds available for match."