Calaveras County Administrator Tom Mitchell said he will ask county supervisors on Monday to give $43,000 to the Area 12 Agency on Aging to eradicate the deficit in its struggling senior meals programs.

Funding for the programs in Calaveras County could run dry by the end of March if county supervisors do not help out, Area 12 officials said last week.

Mitchell is proposing to use leftover money from federal Community Development Block Grants to fund the agency's $43,000 deficit, which accumulated between July and last month.

"Then what needs to happen is that the senior community needs to step up to the plate and help us with some fund-raising efforts, and make a higher contribution in the donation cost per meal," Mitchell said.

The board voted to give a $24,833 "overmatch" payment to the ailing program last week. The overmatch fee which has accumulated over the last two years pays for all home-delivered meals served over and above the number originally planned for.

Mark Thornton, chairman of Area 12's governing board, said last week that his agency needed just $28,000 to carry on the nutrition program. That payment would account for lost revenues since July.

Even with the $28,000, though, Thornton said recipients of home-delivered meals in Calaveras County might have to go on a waiting list for meals.

Mitchell said he's recommending the county pay $43,000 which includes $1,000 for January's deficit because that addresses both falling revenues and rising expenses. That payment would end the need for waiting lists and keep the program afloat awhile longer.

But Area 12 officials have said their Calaveras meals programs which serve about 500 people could go another $36,000 into debt by the end of the fiscal year in June.

"Some of what's causing the problem is that the contribution rate for meals (in Calaveras County) is much lower than in other areas," Mitchell said.