County to seek federal help

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By SCOTT PESZNECKER

Senior meals programs in Calaveras County, provided by the Area 12 Agency on Aging, might not last another two weeks.

The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors yesterday voted 3-1 with District 2 Supervisor Paul Stein absent and District 1 Supervisor Lucy Thein voting "no" to pursue federal grant money to fund Area 12's $43,000 still-growing deficit and extend the agency's nutrition program in the county.

However, if less than 51 percent of Calaveras County meals recipients fit low-income guidelines, the federal government says Community Development Block Grant money cannot fund the deficit.

The federal government's standards say Area 12's single meal recipients fit low-income requirements when they earn less than $8,856 per year.

That's the government's listed poverty level.

However, federal guidelines that govern the use of block grants consider people who make about $13,000 annually to be low-income.

Calaveras County Administrative Officer Tom Mitchell said yesterday that, according to Area 12, about 34 percent of the agency's recipients are low income a number that Area 12 Fiscal Officer Jose Aguilera now says is wrong.

"At this point we're trying to verify the data and numbers because they're not matching up," Aguilera said.

Because there's a possibility that Calaveras County cannot use the federal grant funds and because supervisors did not agree on a backup plan in the event the money isn't available District 3 Supervisor Merita Callaway said Area 12 could very well "pull the plug" on Calaveras meals programs.

Area 12's governing board will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Calaveras Senior Center in San Andreas.

"If we say we're not going to somehow carry the deficit, the program would stop, period, probably this week or next week," said Callaway, who represents Calaveras County on Area 12's governing board. "That includes Meals on Wheels."

Calaveras supervisors voted unanimously to continue the discussion about Area 12 at their next meeting.

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