By Chris Maza
ENFIELD, CT – A split vote by Enfield Town Council has resulted in the end of that town’s Adult Day Care program.
In addition to Enfield and surrounding Connecticut communities, the Adult Day Care program has also provided services to elderly residents in Longmeadow and Springfield since 1992. Those services include medical and hygiene support as well as social, exercise and entertainment options. However, due to a projected deficit of $150,000 and dealing with dwindling usage, the Town Council ultimately considered the Adult Day Care a liability to the town’s financial wellbeing.
By a 7-4 vote, the council determined the program will officially close its doors on March 31, 2020. It will receive $34,000 in funding to operate until that point.
The budget approved by the Town Council for the current fiscal year was approximately $249,000, according to Enfield Town Manager Christopher Bromson. At the halfway point, the center had taken in $49,000 in revenue and expected a similar income for the second half, resulting in the projected deficit.
District 1 City Councilor Joseph Bosco said while he has supported the program in the past, the grim fiscal picture has made it unsustainable.
“This is probably one of the toughest things I’ve had to do during the council, my 12 years … Six years or seven years ago we went through the same thing and I was the one who came up and spoke very highly and saved it. The problem was is was a mistake,” he said, later adding the town had put $125,000 toward the facility in the previous fiscal year and improvements to the building would also be necessary.
“It’s not working and it’s absolutely killing me, but it’s a thing we have to do,” he said.
Councilor at Large Cynthia Mangini was among those who opposed the closure, stressing the need for the program.
“I’m very disturbed by this,” she said. “I go back 19 years visiting and supporting and enjoying and understanding and learning how important it is for our town to have such a facility available to our citizens who really built the town. I just cannot with a good conscience support this and I am very saddened by it.”
Councilor at Large Gina Cekala was visibly and audibly upset by the discussion, urging against looking at the situation as “black and white,” noting sometimes “money isn’t the driving factor” in some circumstances, adding, “It sucks.”
Councilor at Large Bill Kiner blamed the council for not giving the center adequate resources to remain a sustainable resource.
“Shame on us for that,” he said, later adding that 8 to 13 people would be directly affected by the cessation of services.
Councilor at Large Carl Sferrazza said while he agreed with many of the sentiments of those who support keeping the center open, but the cost was making it extremely difficult to maintain.
“The value of Adult Day Care is not lost on me … I understand what it must mean for these people to go once a day to socialize [and] what it means to the caregivers. It’s not a question for me about whether I understand what Adult Day Care is. I do,” he said, going on to say the town had spent approximately $500,000 to subsidize the program since fiscal year 2017.
He also pointed out the town had another senior adult care center at the Felician Sisters Adult Day Care on Enfield Street and added he wished to see the money saved by the Adult Day Care’s closure to be reallocated to other senior services, namely the Circuit Breaker program.