Funding cuts could split Inyo-Mono agency on aging
Budget cuts and revenue reductions are effecting services provided by Inyo and Mono counties, and the latest to take a hit is the Inyo Mono Area Agency on Aging (IMAAA).
Formed in 1980 through a Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement (JPA), IMAAA provides Inyo and Mono county seniors with direct services like congregate meals at senior sites, home delivered meals, transportation to medical appointments or grocery shopping, and home services such as light housekeeping and personal care.
Inyo covers the bulk of the cost for these services, which aren’t cheap, and have only been rising in recent years, while funding allocations remain stagnant, or decrease.
According to Inyo County Health and Human Services (HHS) and IMAAA Executive Secretary Gina Ellis, IMAAA is funded through a complex combination of state, county, and local dollars. This year, the state allocation is about $145,000 less than it was in FY 07/08. In addition, June 30 marked the end of a three-year grant with The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF) that covered $300,000 for
“core operating” costs. Inyo won’t learn until September whether IMAAA will be awarded another three-year grant for between $50,000-$63,333 per year, that would help with administrative and food costs.
Couple these changes in funding with Inyo’s budget challenges, and you have a recipe for a massive shortfall. The current total shortfall for FY 11/12 is $871,465, according to Ellis. That shortfall is made up a combination of administrative and direct service delivery costs.
Administrative costs — the cost of data collection from all service providers and data reporting to the state, preparation of state-required budgets and multiple reporting documents, staffing all activities associated with both the Advisory Council and Governing Board, etc. — continue to increase annually, while revenues continue to decrease. The current administrative allocation of $61,932 — down from $95,445 three years ago — won’t come close to covering the $393,388 it costs Inyo County to administer the program for the two counties.
Then there’s the direct service delivery cost to Inyo eligible seniors, which in FY 10/11 was $1,078,043, while Inyo’s share of the state and federal revenue for providing those services was $486,521. In FY11/12, Inyo’s share of state and federal revenues is $453,126. This leaves a direct service funding gap of $540,009.
In the past, Inyo has sought the use of General Funds to close these gaps. This year the proposed IMAAA budget is requesting a General Fund contribution of $686,514, and is hoping to make up the extra $184,951 through contributions from other revenues, including locally-generated dollars. The request for $686,514 marks a $99,702 increase from the General Fund contribution for FY 10/11, or an increase of 17%.
So how else can Inyo get the funding it needs? Currently Inyo provides 72.5% to Mono’s 27.5% of direct service revenues, and Inyo maintains 100% responsibility for administration. One of Inyo’s solutions to the budget problem is to seek greater support from Mono County for administrative costs. As a recent Inyo Board of Supervisors letter to IMAAA pointed out, “one of the most apparent ways” to increase revenues would be to “spread the cost of the administrative shortfall — shouldered exclusively by Inyo County during the twenty four years it has provided IMAAA with administrative services — among other contractors.”
In other words, it might be time for Mono County to relieve a little bit of Inyo’s burden.
The BOS letter to the IMAAA ends on a somewhat ominous note: “No later than Oct. 4, the Inyo County Board will be considering options for the continuation of senior services in Inyo County, including possible notice to terminate its contract with IMAAA.”
IMAAA may have brought this threat upon itself by reminding the BOS in an Aug. 2 Agenda Request Form that “it may be useful to recall that neither Inyo nor Mono is mandated to provide these services. The responsibility for the provision of these services is mandated by the federal government to the state, and the state is required to provide these services via state-designated Public Service Areas (PSAs). In many parts of the state, PSAs are operated by nonprofit agencies and do not require counties.”
So what does this mean for the future of IMAAA? When asked whether these two statements could spell the end of Inyo’s support for the IMAAA, Ellis answered, “We know that the Inyo Board of Supervisors has demonstrated, and continues to demonstrate, a strong commitment to seniors.”
What this means for the more than 8,065 seniors in Inyo and Mono counties remains unclear.
The Inyo County BOS elected not to accept the proposed IMAAA budget on Aug. 2. The budget will be reconsidered as part of the county’s budget hearings currently scheduled to begin on Sept. 12.