Statewide budget cuts will force senior centers throughout southwest Missouri to close three to five days in the next three months.
Gov. Jay Nixon recently announced a round of budget withholdings, including more than $150,000 from the Southwest Missouri Office on Aging, that must take place before July 1.
The SMOA board of directors had to share the reductions across all expenses, the organization said, and will close all senior centers and its administrative office in Springfield on appointed days, beginning Monday. Subsequent days of closure will be announced as they occur.
All SMOA employees will take unpaid furlough days.
“We understand these furlough days will be a hardship on employees and their families and on those who rely on the services that we provide,” said Bernadine Hohlt, group leader at the Houston Senior Center. “Our staff will assure that seniors who receive home meals will have an advance meal for the day the senior center is closed.
To keep the budget balanced, the board will continue to seek fair and responsible ways of cutting costs as we face a new year of funding challenges, it said. The group encouraged those concerned to contact state representatives and senators or make contributions to local senior centers or SMOA.