By SCOTT PESZNECKER
Calaveras County officials want to audit the Area 12 Agency on Aging before considering paying down the agency's debt from the county's senior meals programs.
County Administrative Officer Tom Mitchell said he sent a letter to Area 12 asking for the audit, for which he said the county would pay.
At issue is a $43,000 deficit on the Area 12 books. Agency Executive Director Peggy Lee said the deficit was racked up between July 2002 and March, when Area 12 tried directly running Calaveras County's senior nutrition programs.
Lee has repeatedly asked Calaveras County supervisors to help pay down the deficit.
However, supervisors have said they won't give money to Area 12 until they have a better explanation of how the deficit came to be.
"I don't believe they have any right to turn it down," said Mitchell of the proposed audit, which he said could cost the county about $5,000. "As a government agency, I think we're within our rights to audit them."
Mitchell said the county is now looking for a consultant to do the audit.
As of Wednesday, though, Area 12 had yet to receive Mitchell's letter asking for the inspection.
Lee said she would welcome a county audit of her books.
"I think it's wonderful, I think it's appropriate, I think it's great," Lee said. "If they see that the actual costs are there, the county might decide that they really need to support senior services in Calaveras County."
Area 12 usually hires outside companies to provide senior food services for Calaveras, Tuolumne, Amador, Mariposa and Alpine counties.
But the agency took over Calaveras County's meals programs in July after Mother Lode Seniors stopped providing meals. Like Area 12, Mother Lode Seniors also went in the red.
By March, Lee said her agency had a $43,000 debt. At the time, she said her agency might pull its meals programs out of Calaveras County all together.