The 3-year-old center is run by the city Recreation and Community Services Department, with input from the Patterson Senior Center Board, an all-volunteer advisory panel that reports to city staff members and the Patterson City Council.
Board member Mary Bennett and her husband, Ken, introduced a plan at the board meeting Tuesday, March 19, to take over daily operations of the center.
According to the plan, a sworn commission of seniors would report directly to City Manager Rod Butler.
“Commissioners take an oath of office,” Mary Bennett said. “(The board) is not a commission. We do not set the rules. When people take an oath, they take the position seriously.”
The proposed commission is modeled on a similar commission in Ripon. It would have six members appointed by the City Council — five voting members and an alternate — who would split up the duties of running the center from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, when seniors occupy the building for classes and activities.
Each commissioner would take on one or two tasks from a list of such duties as finance, front-desk work, computer room supervision, rental of the building, activities, bingo, special events, fundraisers and guest speakers, Mary Bennett said.
She stressed that any changes to the rules would have to be approved by the City Council.
The Bennetts also discussed the idea of a governing commission during the March 5 regular City Council meeting, and some council members seemed open to discuss their ideas. But most seniors at the Tuesday board meeting were leery.
Mark Jones, vice president of the board, questioned the thoroughness of the one-page plan that was handed to board members and senior citizens in attendance Tuesday.
“The devil is in the details,” Jones said. “I have questions and concerns. A vast majority of the changes can be made under the current board.”
Board Secretary Mary Gong said she thought the advisory board was sufficient to manage the center.
Lena Dumont, former board president, also opposed the Bennetts’ suggestion.
“I just think at this time the seniors aren’t ready,” she said. “If it’s not broke, why change it?”
Mary Bennett said after the meeting that some officers of the board had been lax about their roles, and she thought a commission would be taken more seriously. She also said local seniors needed greater control of their programs.
“We need to run this more as a business and give the stockholders a say,” she said.
She asked near the end of the meeting that seniors write down questions and comments for the City Council to review.
A workshop with the board and senior citizens is planned at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 28, at the senior center to work on plans that could be presented to the City Council for approval, she said.
• Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31, or firstname.lastname@example.org.