By LENORE RUTHERFORD
Just one group has expressed interest in taking over Calaveras County's senior citizens' meals programs.
Common Ground Senior Services, the nonprofit group that contracts with the Area 12 Agency on Aging to provide meals in Amador County, has sent a "letter of intent" to bid on a contract to provide meals in Calaveras County.
The winning bidder will be responsible for food served at the Calaveras Senior Center in San Andreas and at outlying sites in Arnold, Angels Camp, Burson, Copperopolis, Valley Springs and West Point, as well as the home-delivery program Meals on Wheels.
Peggy Lee, the area agency's executive director, said Monday she would not object to Common Ground taking over the Calaveras site, but only if the group meets certain conditions.
"They do a good job of getting the meals out," she said, "but they have problems with fiscal reporting."
She said although the organization's fiscal reporting doesn't meet state and federal requirements, it is not operating in the red.
"The state (Department of Aging) came in and monitored the area agency recently, and they were emphatic that we make sure the providers (contractors) adhere to the required fiscal and program rules.
"At this point, Amador is not following the fiscal rules," she said.
Lee said she plans to recommend to area agency directors Thursday that Common Ground hire a fiscal officer or someone else to review its documents before they are submitted to the area agency.
"We don't make up the rules," she said. "These are state and federal requirements. I'm just passing them down."
Budget deficits are the main reason the senior meals programs need a new contractor.
As of the end of October, the programs were $31,000 in the hole for the fiscal year that began July 1.
Funding for the food comes from the state and federal departments of aging, through grants and from the $2.50 donation requested for each meal.
Lee said, budgets for Calaveras County senior meals programs have been in the hole for years.
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