When the Community Service Contract Review Committee met to discuss annual city funding for various nonprofit groups, what appeared to be a relatively simple house-keeping meeting ended up causing quite a stir among residents last week when half the contracts were denied recommendations.

When the Community Service Contract Review Committee met to discuss annual city funding for various nonprofit groups, what appeared to be a relatively simple house-keeping meeting ended up causing quite a stir among residents last week when half the contracts were denied recommendations.

While groups like Shawnee Forward, Central Oklahoma Community Action Agency/Central Oklahoma Transit System (COCAA/COTS) and Safe Events For Families (SEFF) again received a nod from the committee, other typically awarded groups did not.

The Historic Shawnee Alliance (HSA), the Shawnee Senior Center and Visit Shawnee Inc. (VSI) failed to gain support from the review committee for next year.

Though approval or denial of community service contracts for the 2019-2020 fiscal year won't be decided until next week by Shawnee City Commissioners, city staff already appear to be anticipating oversight of future operations at the senior center.

“The City of Shawnee will be taking over that program since a majority of the program is funded by the City of Shawnee,” the April 25 City of Shawnee Oklahoma Municipal Government Facebook post reads. “We are not doing away with the Senior Center. The City intends to reorganize and update the services provided and introduce new programs.”

The post continues with assurance that the city remains committed to its seniors and will continue to elevate this critical service.

The committee decision spurred an outcry from many senior citizens that frequent the center.

A special Senior Center board meeting was called Friday, where at least 60 residents gathered to try to find answers and air concerns.

Director of Operations James Bryce said things will continue to run as usual — at least for the time being.

“If the city does decide to take over operation of the center, that wouldn't begin until July 1,” he said. “Even if it does, many may not even notice a change.”

HSA President Linda Agee said the $16,000 requested funding — if it's cut — will mean no facade grants to offer next year.

“I don't know who is on the review committee, but I'm not sure they understand the positive impact this program has had on Shawnee in the past,” she said. “It is an incentive that has had a tremendous return on investment in the downtown area.”

For every dollar invested by the city, she said the building and business owners have invested several times that amount.

“And as a former member of the SEDF and realtor who deals with other realtors and investors, the appearance of downtown is often a consideration in their decision to make an investment in Shawnee,” she said.

Some downtown improvements are dependent upon this funding source, she said.

“We have had several requests from people who are holding off making facade improvements until grant money becomes available,” she said.

The determination has not actually been made yet.

Bryce said the final word will come when Shawnee City Commissioners vote on whether to approve or deny each of the contracts.

Bryce said the contract renewals are set to go before the board at its May 6 meeting.

Notice of a schedule change to the monthly meeting has since been issued. The gathering regularly set for 6 p.m. has been bumped up to begin at 3 p.m. Monday in the Bertha Ann Young City Commission Chambers at City Hall, at 16 W. 9th St.

Watch for updates.