Pay up, Area 12 says

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By SCOTT PESZNECKER

Area 12 Agency on Aging Board Chairman Mark Thornton will tell Calaveras County supervisors Monday why the agency believes the county owes it more than $40,000.

The Area 12 senior meals program has lost about $6,000 a month since last fall, Area 12 officials said.

While senior-meals programs stay afloat in the agency's other member counties Tuolumne, Amador, Mariposa and Alpine Calaveras racked up a deficit of $41,967 between July and December.

Thornton said Calaveras County has a responsibility to pay not just for its deficit, but also for $13,475 in "overmatch" funds. The Area 12 board voted to levy such fees on each member county to pay for about $48,000 in annual overhead costs associated with the meals program.

Calaveras County did not pay its fee last year or the year before.

"I'll be pointing out that there is a financial shortfall, and I don't think the other four counties are situated to cover that shortfall for a program that's based in Calaveras County," Thornton said.

Area 12 Agency on Aging Executive Director Peggy Lee said Calaveras County should pay its overmatch fees, pointing out that Terri Bailey the former District 5 supervisor who sat on the Area 12 board for Calaveras County supported the fees.

"Their board member seconded the motion on two occasions," Lee said.

But Calaveras County Board of Supervisors Chairman Paul Stein disagrees, saying Bailey's vote didn't speak for the entire board.

County Administrative Officer Tom Mitchell said yesterday that he has spoken with Area 12 officials, and is confident a solution can be found.

"There are a number of issues that have gotten confused as to what the actual costs are," Mitchell said. "But Calaveras County has always paid its fair share of funds that were agreed to in the joint powers agreement.

"The joint powers authority agreed to do the overmatch, but I don't see that it was ever brought back before the board of supervisors formally for them to approve that expenditure."

Bailey voted in favor of the fees in 2001 and 2002 both years she was on the Area 12 board in the belief "it was a commitment" she made on behalf of Calaveras supervisors.

Bailey said yesterday that Calaveras County supervisors need "to look at what they're doing in relation to what other counties in the JPA are doing."

Thornton and Lee agreed, pointing out that the other counties pay their overmatch fees.

Furthermore, if Calaveras County supervisors do not promise up-front financial help in the future, Thornton said, Calaveras County seniors who need the meals program could someday be put on waiting lists.

The meals program moved its kitchen out of the senior center in San Andreas about a week and a half ago, because it could no longer afford the $1,000 monthly rent.

Program officials have been negotiating with The Metropolitan restaurant to use its kitchen to prepare the meals served to seniors in San Andreas and at satellite sites around the county, as well as to homebound seniors who get Meals on Wheels deliveries.

Until an agreement for a kitchen is reached, seniors can each get one hot meal a day at the Station 49 Diner or a frozen meal ready for home preparation for $2.50.

Contact Scott Pesznecker at spesznecker@uniondemocrat.com .

11498915
The Union Democrat
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