Residents petition council: Give her insurance

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 26, 2012

The search is on for a new director for the Florala Senior Service Center.

City officials recently heard from a group of dedicated center attendees and residents about the need to fill the position.

Former director Loretta Sasser recently resigned because of the lack of health insurance benefits for the 30-hour per week, part-time position.

Those attending presented a petition asking for the city council to rethink their position to offer the benefit; however, the council agreed there wasn’t money in the budget to cover the added expense.

Mayor Robert Williamson explained if they gave insurance to Sasser, then, “by law we’d would be required to give insurance to every 30-hour employee.”

“The decision has nothing to do with (Sasser) personally,” Williamson said. “It’s that the city only has a certain amount of revenue.”

Sasser, who was in attendance, encouraged the council “to do whatever it took” to provide the new center director with health benefits.

“If not, then they might find themselves in my position and then have to make a difficult choice,” she said.

Sasser said it was very difficult for seniors to lose a director because of the “close bond” developed with those attending the center.

“The director grows to truly love them, and they love her, and then when a change is made, it hits the seniors hard,” she said.

Williamson agreed with Sasser’s thought on providing the benefit, “but the true and simple fact is, the city just can’t financially afford it.”

According to a recent ad published in The Star-News, the director is responsible for managing all operations provided through the center. Center activities include serving in house and homebound meals, program/activities and group facilitation for senior participants and transportation. Applicants must have excellent written, communication, organizational and computer skills, as well as be “energetic and able to work independently and familiar with budgeting and budget management, have supervisory skills, and the ability to complete the necessary government reports required.”

The position is funded through the Southern Alabama Regional Council on Aging and the city.

The application period ended Jan. 20 with 14 interested candidates, City Clerk Kathy Rathel said.

It is unknown when a new director will be hired.