Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2017

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Senior programs not spared from cuts in Sandoval budget

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

CARSON CITY — Senior citizens, like those in other groups, are going to take a hit under Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget.

The budget eliminates the senior citizens property tax rebate program that has served more than 17,000 people. Also, the senior and disability taxicab program in Clark County is going to be tightened.

And Sandoval wants counties to contribute $2.2 million over the next two fiscal years to finance the elder protective services program. Clark County would pay 56.3 percent of that assessment.

The state would save $11.2 million by scrapping the property tax rebate program that has given an average $335 as year to 17,764 seniors.

Carol Sala, administrator of the state Division of Aging and Disability Services, told a legislative budget subcommittee Tuesday that several options were examined in eliminating the property tax rebates.

“We had to look at the least harmful,” she said.

But Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said that rather than cutting off the all the rebates, there could be some eligibility standards, such as serving those below the poverty level. He said the proposal will be examined in depth.

In Clark County, senior citizens and the disabled can buy vouchers for taxi rides at a discounted rate. Sala said there is no criterion for selling the vouchers. “It’s first come, first serve,” she said.

The division intends to develop standards for who would be eligible. The standards haven’t been written but would probably follow the eligibility qualifications set in other senior and disabled programs.

The program is funded through a surcharge placed on every taxi fare in Clark County.

With the protective services program, the division is responsible for receiving and investigating allegations of abuse, neglect, exploitation and isolation of elderly persons. In Clark County, the program was shared with the county, but it pulled out after 30 years effective last July.

The state workers in 2006 investigated an average of 31 cases, but that has grown to 55 cases as of November. The national average recommended is 25 cases per worker. The budget calls for a caseload of 40 per worker.

Outside of senior programs, funding for children with autism is also being reduced. The 2009 Legislature provided money for treatment of 110 children per month, but the Sandoval budget provides enough money for 83 children.

Sala said no child would be kicked off the program, but it would shrink by attrition as youngsters leave the service.

Sala said there were 205 children on a waiting list to get into the program as of Jan. 1.

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