Windsor Town Council considers revised agreement with Senior Services

Published 6:22 pm Friday, August 5, 2022

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Questions from Windsor Town Council members remain regarding some of the variables involved if the town enters into a Memorandum of Understanding with Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia allowing the organization to offer regular services out of the Windsor Town Center.

George Stubbs

The most prominent of the questions comes from Councilman George Stubbs, who asks what the impact of an approved MOU with Senior Services would be on the town’s insurance policy.

The questions came during the Town Council’s July 12 meeting after Town Manager William Saunders shared the revisions and recommendations made by the Windsor Town Center Advisory Board in connection with the proposal for senior programs and the MOU regarding rental rates and expenses.

“The Windsor Town Center Advisory Board recommended moving forward with the section programs proposed at the Windsor Town Center while being mindful that increased costs of operations are an unknown until some period of time has elapsed with the programs underway,” Saunders stated.

He noted that the advisory board reiterated its desire to evaluate the costs at a future time.

Saunders then delved into the specific revisions and references to the draft MOU that the board had recommended since April 12.

The board recommended that Section III.A.3 of the MOU regarding rental policies, to include fees, remain unchanged, meaning that SSSEVA would be subject to rental policies, to include fees, for events booked outside of the normally proposed, weekly events that are noted in Section III.A.1.

Section III.A.1 reads as follows: “(Senior Services will provide) staffing for the older adult programming at Windsor Town Center, at no cost to the town, during the times that Senior Services programs are active. These program hours shall be from 9 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., Monday through Thursday.”

Saunders noted that under Section IV, of the MOU, which deals with the use of the town center, the advisory board recommends that the first paragraph remain unchanged, meaning that the SSSEVA should not be charged a rental fee for the normal, weekly events spelled out in Section III.A.1.

William Saunders

“The advisory board also recommends the addition of the kitchen as one of the spaces of primary use for senior programs in the third paragraph of that section,” Saunders said.

Relevant to Section VI. which is called “Modification,” Saunders said the board recommends that all parties to the agreement meet between 12 and 18 months following execution to determine if any amendments to the terms are necessary, particularly as relates to potential increased operations costs of the facility. Further, the board recommends opening a dialogue with the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors regarding costs of the programs during this reevaluation if the additional costs are impactful.

The board had one other revision that addressed how a section in the memorandum was referred to, which Saunders noted was “just really a housekeeping item.”

“Also find enclosed, a draft, revised rental policy that envisions the recommended relationship

with the SSSEVA as well as other discounted rates for particular events and user groups,” Saunders told council members. “That policy is the current policy with a redline section in it under the heading Discounted Events and User Groups. We used the Smithfield Center’s policies and procedures as a guide for this application.”

The revisions state that the following events at the Windsor Town Center be discounted 100% — all elections and primaries; up to four Red Cross blood drives per calendar year; Isle of Wight County government events, per agreement; SSSEVA luncheons Monday-Thursday, per agreement; and the Friends of the Windsor Library’s Breakfast with Santa in December.

The revisions also note that civic groups from the town of Windsor are eligible for a 50% discount on events held Monday-Thursday and one event per calendar year held Friday-Sunday. Additionally, SSSEVA is eligible for a 50% discount on special events held Monday-Thursday and one event per calendar year held Friday-Sunday, per agreement.

“The advisory board did not want to entertain changing the actual hourly rates at this time because they wanted research from more venues about what the competition is, but they did start putting things in a framework whereby they could have staggered rates based on either weekday rates or weekend rates,” Saunders said.

Glyn T. Willis

Windsor Mayor Glyn T. Willis asked what the definition of “civic groups from the town of Windsor” would be, and Town Attorney Fred Taylor said the group would need to meet the 501(c)(3) standard.

Later during the council’s discussion, Stubbs asked, “Do we have any idea what adding Senior Services as an additional insured party to our insurance policy may cost, with a minimum of $1 million coverage per event?”

“No, sir,” Saunders replied.

“OK,” Stubbs said. “So we’re going to endure that cost for 12-18 months before they review the progress and the cost of what it cost for Senior Services to use this facility?”

He said that he has received several phone calls on this, and he has not heard anyone yet that is going to agree with moving forward.

“To provide the services?” Mayor Willis asked.

“To provide the services at no cost,” Stubbs said. “If they want to use the building, they can do like the others — pay a rental fee.”

He pointed to the rooms at the town center that the town would be providing Senior Services, which the draft MOU describes as the Arrowhead Meeting Room and kitchen, with secondary options including the gym, art room or lounge, when conflicts arise.

“They should be like anybody else,” Stubbs said, referring to SSSEVA and rental fees.

“Why?” Councilwoman Kelly Blankenship asked.

“Because the citizens of this town paying taxes are going to endure the cost of this for that 12 to 18 months before we have determined how much extra cost it’s going to have for these people to utilize this building, whether any damage occurs or whatever, and at that point we find out ‘Well hey, this costs too much’ and our residents with their taxes are paying for it, who’s going to reimburse them for it?” he said.

Kelly Blankenship

Blankenship then explained her perspective on the matter.

“I’m just saying that if the town wants to provide senior services to the town, how is that any different than the town wanting to provide parks and rec to the town and agreeing to let the county use the facility at a 100% discount?” she said. “I think it’s our decision to decide if providing senior services is important to the members of this community.

“To be perfectly honest, I think this community could benefit more from senior services than they do from what’s going in parks and rec, but we made a decision to offer parks and rec in the facility at 100% discount,” she continued. “You’re saying (SSSEVA) should pay rental like everybody else, but I see this as something different. I see this as the town providing a service to the community, not somebody wanting to rent our facility to provide service.

“And the other thing as far as cost goes,” she added, “we already have electricity in that facility, we already have lights, we already have A/C, so we’re anticipating that those expenses will go up, but we don’t know how much.”

“True statement,” Stubbs said.

“(The town is) already running it,” Blankenship said. “Not that I have any professional judgment on it, but I just fail to see how that’s going to be a significant cost.”

When asked by Willis later in the meeting if utilities costs at the town center would not be affected much by the addition of the SSSEVA’s proposed regular programs, Saunders indicated that was likely fair to say.

Willis followed up on Stubbs’ question about insurance, asking Saunders if the town would have to change its policy to cover SSSEVA events. Saunders said he would think the policy covers the events already, generically, but he indicated it would be worth looking into.

“Let’s check that and make sure that we haven’t got a surprise there,” Willis said.

Blankenship said, “I don’t disagree that it would be good to know what the cost of the insurance would be, because that should be a number we ought to be able to obtain.”

Stubbs asked if Senior Services had changed the number of regular meeting days it was asking for at the town center.

“They said they were going to start with two or three and might work up to four, and so we just made it Monday-Thursday to cover whatever,” Saunders said. “Even on the north end at Nike Park where they have similar service, they don’t typically have a Friday meeting.”

Councilman Walter Bernacki noted that on the town center’s Rental Agreement Form, it states that no smoking is allowed inside or outside the facility, as it is on public school premises.

“What about vaping or chewing?” he asked. “Vaping isn’t tobacco, so that’s why I didn’t know if we needed to maybe put specific language in there.”

Saunders said he would look into that.

Stubbs asked if Senior Services’ program hours of 9 a.m.-1:45 p.m. include setup and cleanup time or if the organization was going to be in the facility for more time than what is listed.

“I think we should not specify in our agreement their program time,” Blankenship said. “I think we should specify when they can come in and when they need to be out and let them structure their program to fit in the in and out timeframe.”

Willis recommended a small wording change to the draft MOU to say “access time” instead of “program hours” to ensure that SSSEVA’s building usage remains between 9 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.

Stubbs asked if SSSEVA would have its own key to the building.

“They would have to have their own key,” Saunders said. “That’s part and parcel of this agreement is that they’re going to have to have primary access similar to Parks and Rec at the county, because Parks and Rec is not going to cover this time, and town staff does not recommend us having to cover this time.”

Willis recommended having the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors review the draft MOU before it gets finalized to be sure it is in sync with the county’s goals for serving seniors.

Blankenship stated that once it is known what the impact of the SSSEVA senior programs is to the town budget, she advocates for presenting to Isle of Wight County the town’s plan and asking how the county can financially help the town.

“We do have a closed session tonight,” Willis said. “Let’s anticipate that any questions that come from the specifics of this being an MOU contract, we can bring those to Fred as we sit in closed session. 

“And then action is needed as we get into next month, and then anything that comes out of those discussions with Fred, as well as the insurance side of it, that should set us up so that we can make a decision and take the specific actions needed in August,” he added.

Blankenship said she wanted to present one other thought for council members to think about.

Citing a comment made at an advisory board session, she said, “If we don’t move forward with this and we let this organization walk away and come up with a different solution, we may regret that decision, because they may not be so willing to come back in the future if we turn them down for no concrete reason. So we need to be thinking about that as we’re making our decision.”

Willis acknowledged her point.

“The challenge would be if they moved elsewhere in the central Isle of Wight or lower Isle of Wight proximity and said, ‘Well, we’ve found somebody we can work with,’ and (then they) do implement something in Carrsville, then that focus would be there, and you’re right, it could be more difficult in five years or something to have them come back and (we) say, ‘Well, can you do something in Windsor?’” he said. “We’re the second-largest population area in the county, and we often say, ‘We wish we had these things in Windsor,’ and it’s a case of figuring out how to do them.”