The town of Matthews has purchased the Levine Senior Center by borrowing $740,000 to pay off the center’s mortgage. The building and land are valued at more than $4 million.
Though the town’s name now is on the deed, they will not be involved in day-to-day operations. Matthews has contracted with the center’s existing board of directors to operate the facility.
We saw the need to make sure the senior center would remain under local control and not shift away from the people that it was providing services for.
Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor
“Over the last three years, the center has been challenged financially by our $5,200 month mortgage payment. It was our largest expense by far. Our board decided that we needed to find a long-term partner or owner,” said Roland Bibeau, the center’s board chair and president of Novant Health Matthews Medical Center.
When the town got word that the center was seeking a suitor, they stepped in.
“We saw the need to make sure the senior center would remain under local control and not shift away from the people that it was providing services for,” said Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor.
Taylor said the town examined the center’s operations last summer to assure that the numbers looked sustainable.
“It was run efficiently and provided the needed services for seniors. We looked at their finances and they were running in the black excluding their mortgage,” Taylor said.
The Levine Senior Center is open to folks age 50 and older. A number of programs are free, but there are annual membership dues. The center offers an exercise room, indoor pool, health seminars, educational programs, creative arts, tax preparation assistance and other programs.
According to Levine Senior Center Executive Director Dahn Jenkins, 1,550 people currently belong to the center. The facility is open 49 hours each week serving about 600 people on a weekly basis.
Paid staff is lean with only two full-time and two part-time employees. The center depends on 60-plus hours of volunteer time each week to keep operations running smoothly.
Last fall, Matthews’ leaders and the center board reached a sales agreement and the town applied to the Local Government Commission for permission to borrow the money. Approval was granted, and the deal closed on Jan. 12.
Bibeau said having the town as their landlord will free up funds for additional programming and other improvements.
Jenkins, said she is excited that, thanks to the agreement with the town of Matthews, the center will celebrate it’s 10th anniversary next month – mortgage free.
“This is a true blessing for the town, the center, and the people that we serve,” Jenkins said.
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer: email@example.com.