Despite stall, senior service contracts OK

June 16, 2003 11:00 pm

By LENORE

RUTHERFORD

Seniors in a five-county area will still get hot lunches and other services despite stalled contract negotiations with service providers.

Area 12 Agency on Aging Executive Director Peggy Lee said there have been delays in talks with the companies providing transportation, household help, information and assistance, drug management and insurance counseling. But when the discussions are done, the contracts will cover four years, beginning July 1, Lee said.

One of the most prominent services Area 12 offers is senior nutrition programs, including Meals on Wheels deliveries for people who are shut in.

The Area 12 board of directors last week OK'd four-year contracts, "with corrections." Now, the contractors and agency staff members must work out what Lee called inconsistencies in budget figures and other issues.

In some cases, bids must be re-opened, either because contractors didn't meet the deadlines or because of mistakes by Area 12, Lee said.

But because current contractors are the only ones bidding on new contracts — the agency received no outside bids — current agreements will automatically be extended until Sept. 30, allowing time for the process, Lee said.

Meals programs in four of the agency's five-county jurisdiction — Tuolumne, Alpine, Amador and Mariposa counties — operate cleanly throughout the year.

However, the Calaveras County meals program has faced a number of financial problems in recent years.

Area 12 became the direct meal provider last year after four contractors who had been serving meals at satellite sites and to home-bound seniors had continual losses.

But the agency itself racked up a $43,000 shortfall after just a few months of serving meals, and has again contracted out to get food to seniors.

Calaveras is the only county running a deficit, although other counties have needed fund raisers and help from their county governments to keep programs afloat.