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      SOWEGA Council on Aging faces huge budget cuts

      The SOWEGA Council on Aging has recently learned that due to results from the Census they will be facing a $351,000 budget cut. But the cuts don't stop there; due to the Sequester they could be facing another 5% budget cut in July.

      Kay Hind, the executive director of the SOWEGA Council on Aging, says when all is said and done she believes the total of their budget cut will be around half a million dollars. Hind says these cuts are going to affect every aspect of how they function and the programs they offer.

      Hind is hoping they won't have to lay any of the workers off but she says due to the cuts they won't be replacing any of the staff if/when they do leave. Hind also says they won't be able to take on any new clients.

      Some of the programs that will be heavily affected by the cuts are Meals on Wheels, the Family Caregiver program, and the transportation that is provided to help get senior citizens to the centers.

      Angelika Smith, the manager of the Senior Center on Pine Ave., says she has a feeling it might come down to either requiring the client's to pay for their meals, or only allowing them to come a certain number of days a week. Smith says many of the senior citizens won't be able to afford the meals if they have to pay for them which means many of them would have to stop coming.

      Smith says she believes the reason for the census budget cut is because many of the senior citizens in the region didn't fill out their census cards, leading state officials to believe there are far less seniors than there actually are. Smith said her center only sees between 30 and 50 seniors a day.

      One thing that is keeping Smith hopeful is the transition to the new center, which will combine both of the center's in Albany. Smith says this will save them quite a bit of money.

      According to Hind, there are 14 centers in southwest Georgia that will be affected by these cuts.

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