If the Williamston Senior Center millage on the Nov. 3 ballot fails, the center will likely close.
According to “WASC Millage — Frequently Asked Questions,” the millage would cover operational costs and activities for four years. “For a $200,000 home with a taxable value of $100,000, a resident would pay approximately $25 per year.”
“We want to be able to have a functioning senior center where we don’t have to worry about operational expenses, so that we can offer better programs to the seniors,” said Julie Rudd, secretary of the senior center.
The center serves 123 seniors.
“Realistically, unless we get some kind of guaranteed funding coming in, shutting down is the alternative,” said Rudd.
Susan Cockerill, a volunteer, has worked at the center for 11 years.
“I’ve watched the struggling at the senior center with financial stability,” said Cockerill.
The Williamston Senior Center is one of the few centers in Michigan that doesn’t receive guaranteed funding or operates without a millage, according to the Williamston Area Senior Center Fact Sheet.
Although the center receives donations, it’s lacking stability, said Cockerill.
“We do get very generous gifts and that’s what’s kept us going, but you can’t plan on that,” said Cockerill.
Ron Harris, president of the senior center, said they lost funds due to COVID-19.
“We do concession stands and concerts in the park on Thursdays. However, there were no concerts in the park this year,” said Harris. “We have additional sources of funds that we’re not getting.”
The City of Williamston, Leroy Township and Wheatfield Township agreed to put the proposal on their ballots. According to, “WASC Millage — Frequently Asked Questions,” Williamstown Township didn’t vote on the proposal and Locke Township voted it down.
“Our senior center is a little bit different because we really do support the seniors in all of those townships,” said Rudd. “It isn’t just Williamston.”
Rudd said that Williamstown Township and Locke Township want to see the senior center survive, but suggested to her that the senior center should try again in a few years because of the current economy.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t really have a choice. We’re not going to exist in a couple of years for us to go forward and try it in a couple of years,” said Rudd. “I felt like we had to do it now.
Harris said they put signs in the windows of businesses.
“They were very kind for the most part,” said Harris. “They wanted to help.”
“They’re supportive, but do we have enough votes? You don’t know,” said Harris.
Enrichment for seniors
According to the “Say ‘Yes’ For Seniors” tri-fold, “Research shows that older adults who participate in senior center programs can learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and economic well-being.”
“We do want to help our seniors; we want to provide more activities for them. Right now they have no activities,” said Harris.
Cockerill agreed that the seniors need more activities.
“I believe that we have to provide for our seniors with activities and enrichment for their general wellbeing,” said Cockerill. “They need to be supported as much as any other group of people.”
The senior center is a community, said Rudd.
“That close knit group of seniors that get together every week, that’s what they’re looking forward to,” said Rudd. “We have to take care of seniors in the community.”