Late Payments from IL Could Impact Local Seniors - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Late Payments from IL Could Impact Local Seniors

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Late payments from the state of Illinois continue to pile up. The state owes the Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging more than $700,000 and counting. The agency is responsible for distributing state funds to local senior centers in ten nearby counties to pay for programs like "meals on wheels" and transportation. Agency directors say with no funding, those programs could be in jeopardy.

"It feels horrible as a director of an area agency on aging not to be able to pay our provider agencies," said Barbara Edkildsen, Executive Director for the Western IL Area Agency on Aging.

"That puts an extra burden on them to have to scramble around to get extra funding for these services that the state of Illinois should be paying for."

She says the agency has taken out a line of credit just in case the state doesn't pay up. However, it would only cover the salaries of her 16 employees. That means area senior centers will be on their own to come up with the funding they need to operate.

"We could not get a big enough line of credit to be able to subsidize all of the state funding that is owed, so we have encouraged them to look at lines of credit and encouraged them to look at their budgets and what they would do to be able to employ the people and provide services."

Meanwhile, local seniors say the fact the services could be in trouble is upsetting. Mary Kay Breitmeyer has been utilizing the services the Rock Island Senior Center has to offer for the past few months. She has been getting help finding a place to live. However, she has a friend who is disabled and uses the meals on wheels program. Breitmeyer says if the funding to keep that program going doesn't come through, she is very worried what will happen to her friend.

"She won't eat. She'll be skinnier than she already is," she said.

She says it's very frustrating to know seniors like her friend and herself could seriously suffer. "This place tries to help everybody and once they cut the funding their hands are tied," she said.

Donald Samier has been coming to the Rock Island Senior Center for five years, he says in that time the people at the center have helped him out a lot.

"They helped put a new roof on my mobile home, new furnace, things like that. Come around and pick you up if you have to go to the doctor or something you know."

He says if seniors were to lose services like transportation it would affect them greatly.

"You would have to stay home and couldn't go anywhere you know. It would hurt a lot of people."

He says state leaders need to get their act together, so those who need help the most aren't left with nowhere to turn.

"Seems like other states are doing better you know, where the money is going I don't know."

Last year the state came through with the payments between March and April. The hope is that will happen again this year. Directors with the Area Agency on Aging say if the state doesn't come through, it will only end up costing them more in the long run.

They say people utilize services like the meals on wheels so they can stay in their home, and if that service were to go away those people may have to go into a nursing home or assisted living facility.