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Kerr Elderly Program cuts non-essential services

By Adriana Fehrs

The Kerr Elder Program for CSKT is cutting several summer services due to an unforeseen increase in expenditure for snowplowing last winter. The program usually provides lawn mowing and smaller home modifications such as ramps during the summer months.  (Photos courtesy of Kerr Elder Program)elders, has sought extra funding from the Tribal Council, but has not been successful. (Courtesy photo of Kerr Elder Program) The Kerr Elder Program for CSKT is cutting several summer services due to an unforeseen increase in expenditure for snowplowing last winter. The program usually provides lawn mowing and smaller home modifications such as ramps during the summer months. (Photos courtesy of Kerr Elder Program)elders, has sought extra funding from the Tribal Council, but has not been successful. (Courtesy photo of Kerr Elder Program)

PABLO — The Kerr Elder Program is facing funding problems for their summer services. When an extended winter storm hit the Flathead Indian Reservation in February, the program was forced to spend more of their allocation on snowplowing, gas, and propane assistance for tribal elders. Now, they are faced with a smaller budget, forcing them to cut services such as lawn mowing.

The Kerr Elder Program provides essential services for elders that meet the age eligibility and income guidelines. Any tribal elder that is 55 years of age or older with a documented disability, or is 60 years of age or old, and meets the income guidelines, can receive assistance through the program. They provide essential services that range from repairing cooking ranges, water heaters, to installing ramps and walk-in shower, gas and propane assistance, to snowplowing and lawn mowing. The program currently serves 871 elders.

The Kerr Elder Program receives an annual $335,334 allocation based on the tribal council’s discretion. $60,000 is budgeted each year for snowplowing costs, but currently the program has spent $105,000 this year due to the winter storm; $46,000 over budget. 31 percent of their budget has been spent in only the first quarter of the year.

About $105,000 was spent during the last winter storm on snowplowing for tribal elders for the Kerr Elder Program. The program, which provides essential services for tribal elders, works off of an annual allotment from CSKT. An over expenditure of 46,000 has caused the program to cut back on summer services. Mike Pierre, Division Manager, says, “We will still be able to provide some services, like smaller house construction". (Courtesy photo of Kerr Elder Program) About $105,000 was spent during the last winter storm on snowplowing for tribal elders for the Kerr Elder Program. The program, which provides essential services for tribal elders, works off of an annual allotment from CSKT. An over expenditure of 46,000 has caused the program to cut back on summer services. Mike Pierre, Division Manager, says, “We will still be able to provide some services, like smaller house construction". (Courtesy photo of Kerr Elder Program)

To offset the unexpected winter costs, the program is cutting several summer services. Starting immediately, they are no longer accepting requests for: car repair, insurance (home or auto), lawn mowing, carpet installation, new furnaces, rent assistance, and tires. The cost of mowing lawns averages $4,788.80 per month, says, Mike Pierre, Division Manager, “There is a high cost associated with lawn mowing, and we are considering it a non-essential service for now, due to our limited budget.”

The program says they will be able to provide some services, like small house modifications. Elders can go through the Home Care Program through the Kerr Elder Program and Indian Health Services for meal preparation services.

They advise elders to seek assistance from family members, and organizations like the Lake County Council of Aging of Ronan.

Kerr Elder Program is encouraging volunteers to help with their program; they partner with the Fatherhood program currently, but still accept volunteers. Individuals in need of filling mandatory community hours can also volunteer.

For more information on the Kerr Elder Program contact the CSKT Department of Human Resources Development at (406) 275-2720.

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