Florence senior center $1M more than budgeted?

FLORENCE, KY (FOX19) - Florence opened the doors for a new senior center, built with suggestions from the people who will use it, but it hasn't been without its share of controversy.

The Florence Senior Activity Center, which opened Monday, cost $2.9 million, $1 million more than estimated.

"We did not spend a million dollars more than the budgeted amount," said Florence mayor, Diane Whalen. "We did spend more money than the original estimate that was given to us in 2007."

Whalen said inflation and construction costs rose in that amount of time, adding the additional $1 million in costs.

Kentucky governor Steve Beshear joined local leaders today for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Florence Senior Activity Center on Monday.

"This center instantly makes Florence a more vibrant and attractive place, not only for its senior citizens, but for attracting business here and for growth in the future," said Beshear.

The new 8,700 square foot facility is located at 7341 U.S. Hwy. 42, the site of the former Florence City Building. It includes a reading room, exercise room, computer room, commercial kitchen and large patio as well as a wellness room for first aid and other uses, such as giving flu shots.

Local seniors were recruited for ideas on what to include.

In May 2010, Beshear presented the city of Florence with a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to assist with construction of the new center. The CDBG funds supplemented an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) and funding from the city of Florence.

Transportation and congestion issues made it difficult for residents to reach senior centers outside Florence, leaving approximately 6,667 seniors, or 23 percent of Florence's population, with a lack of services. The new facility is conveniently located in downtown Florence with nearby availability of public transportation, municipal buildings and other important services.

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