City rejects Aroostook Agency on Aging funding request due to set budget

6 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou city councilors listened to a presentation from Aroostook Agency Director Joy Barresi Saucier last Monday, and ultimately had to reject her request for the city to contribute because their expense budget was set.

Mayor David Martin thanked Saucier for her time, and explained that the city’s budget was locked in for the year.

“We start budget discussions in October,” he said, “so I would suggest you come talk to us then.”

During her presentation, Saucier explained that while “Caribou contributed for many years,” the city has not done so for the past several years.

In reviewing Caribou’s history with the organization, Saucier said she noticed that the last appropriation requests for the city appeared “relatively high” and may have been based on municipal population figures from around 1982.

“I think the reason it was high is that the population in 1982 was much different from the current population [in Caribou],” she said. “I refigured the request based on other towns of a similar size, and that’s how I came up with $4,164.” She did not indicate what the previous request had been.

According to United State Census statistics, Caribou’s population in 1980 was 9,916. The most current data on Caribou’s population via the census bureau is from 2016, in which the population was estimated to be 7,736.

The executive director informed councilors and guests about the services her organization can provide for the county’s elderly population, which range from taking calls from older residents to delivering meals to individuals unable to afford food.

“I received a call just the other day from a woman who believed she was the victim of a scam,” Saucier said. “She went on to explain to me how she has had a gentleman call her once a month for the past several months asking a variety of questions, including where she lives. He told her it was a political action situation, and that he wanted her to send her money.”

Another call was from a woman who “is virtually alone, in a wheelchair with no one checking on her,” who was unable to find assistance through similar programs and sought help through the agency.

She gave another example in which a couple from the St. John Valley called, and the husband was worried he would no longer be able to care for his wife, who “has a deteriorative condition.” He was wondering who would care for his wife after he is no longer capable.

In 2017, the Aroostook Agency on Aging, according to the director, served 675 people in Caribou, or “about 42 percent of the older people” in the city. Additionally, the organization provided “4,299 home delivered meals and answered 419 consumer questions.” The organization had “78 volunteers from Caribou” who provided a collective 8,462 hours of service.

As far as funding is concerned, Saucier said the majority of money to operate comes from “federal and state grants” in addition to “philanthropic sources.”

She added that municipal and county matched dollars are also important to the organization and that “at this point every community in Aroostook County contributes in some form or amount, with the exception of Caribou.”

While the city was unable to contribute this year again, Saucier thanked councilors for the “opportunity to share information.”