UPDATE (Feb. 3, 2023, 10:21 am)
The Volunteers of America reached out to the city's Public Information Office and issued the following statement,
"Volunteers of America Colorado prides itself on being a great community partner. We support people experiencing homelessness, provide shelter for those fleeing domestic violence, create affordable housing, and ensure older Coloradans do not go hungry.
In short, we have high standards.
Those high standards were not met by two employees who, without authorization, shared alarmist and false information about the Durango-La Plata Senior Center. This letter falsely claimed the City of Durango is in discussions to close the Senior Center. As the City of Durango has said, there has been no discussion among council on this matter and the City is in firm support of this facility.
At VOA Colorado, we treasure our relationship with the City of Durango. It is because of relationships like these that we are able to support so many people in Southwest Colorado. We take seriously the actions of these two employees and deeply regret any impact this has had on individuals who depend upon the Senior Center and the many fine services it offers."
Durango, CO: The city of Durango and its council members want to stress their support for the Durango-La Plata Senior Center following a Volunteers of America newsletter recently distributed to residents at the Miremonte senior affordable housing project that contained false information. The newsletter incorrectly stated that the city council is considering removing funding for the center.
"Council makes decisions based on majority vote and in public. Council has not announced any plans to defund the center as alleged in the newsletter, and council has not discussed removing funding provided to the senior center from the joint city-county sales tax," said city Spokesman Tom Sluis. "It's unfortunate that the newsletter containing false claims was sent to elderly Miremonte residents without the VOA first reaching out to the city."
The Joint Sales Tax fund was established by a 1990 intergovernmental agreement between the City of Durango and the La Plata County Board of County Commissioners. The fund is required to report 11% of the county's 2% sales tax revenue and is used to support annual projects which must be jointly agreed upon by both the city and county. The county operates the center as a county department and manages the distribution of the joint sales tax. The county's 2023 budget allocated $690,236 of joint sales tax for the senior center operations and $325,000 for potential capital expenses.
Neither the city nor the county has the unilateral authority to change the distribution of the joint sales tax, which helps funds the senior center as well as the Durango Public Library and homeless expenses.
Senior Center services include transportation, lunch programs to Durango and Bayfield residents, activities, Meals on Wheels, Medicare counseling, aging and disability resources, support groups and home-chore services. Miremonte is a 53-unit affordable rental housing project located in Three Springs which opened in 202 and is managed by the Volunteers of America.
Public Information Officer - Spokesman
Phone: (970) 375-5090