PICCOA applies for multiple grants to continue programs

POSEN – The Presque Isle County Commission on Aging is applying for state and federal grants to continue several of its programs.

Katie Kuznicki, PICCOA executive director, said she’s in the process of applying through the Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency. Once she turns the application over to NEMCSA, the agency will send it to numerous state and federal agencies, then administer the grant money itself. She’s applying for about $165,000 each year for three years.

The grants will help PICCOA continue its homemaking, personal care, respite care, kinship, home-delivered and congregate meal programs, Kuznicki said. It amounts to about 27 percent of the organization’s budget, with a county-wide senior services millage contributing 49 percent.

“Without the (grant) funds, we could not support the programs,” she said.

Part of the application process requires PICCOA to get a letter of approval from Presque Isle County commissioners, Kuznicki said. The letter states the organization provides services to people over 60, and that commissioners approve of the organization’s work. Commissioners approved writing such a letter at their meeting Friday.

While $165,000 a year may sound like a lot of money, PICCOA has numerous programs to maintain, as well as around 30 employees to pay, Kuznicki said. Even while running efficiently, the organization has overhead to cover.

Kuznicki expects to find out if PICCOA secured the grants in August, and the money will start coming in two months later, she said.

PICCOA applies for the grants every three years, Kuznicki said, as do councils on aging for counties throughout Northeast Michigan. They’re especially important as the organization struggles financially in the face of an economic downturn. Depressed property values have eaten into its millage funding, and Kuznicki has been forced to make tough decisions.

“We did lay off two employees, and reduce the hours of my work staff,” she said.

The organization also raised its bus fares, Kuznicki said. They’re up to $5 for riders over 60 and $10 for everyone else. Out-of-county trips now cost $10 for all riders, regardless of age.

One good bit of news is that sequestration, the across-the-board cuts to federal funding starting in March, didn’t hurt PICCOA as much as anticipated, Kuznicki said.

“We obviously had to make some adjustments but the overall economy is what’s affecting us the most,” she said.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.