Inyo Mono Area Agency on Aging (IMAAA) Governing Board voted unanimously on Dec. 19 to allow its contract with the California Department of Aging to expire, effective June 30, 2012, a casualty of what it labeled “state underfunding.”
IMAAA administers senior programs in both Inyo and Mono counties. IMAAA currently contracts with Inyo County to provide administration of the program. The vote was a result of a request from Inyo County for an additional $165,000 in administrative fees from Mono County, even though Mono County only receives a total of $170,000 in state funding for services. Governing Board member and Mono County Board of Supervisors Chair “Hap” Hazard insisted that funding should be spent on services for seniors and not administration.
Mono County Finance Director Brian Muir and County Administrative Officer Jim Arkens maintained that the system is broken, leaving the funding “upside down.” That, Muir pointed out, essentially means Mono County only gets about $5,000 in services. Muir said that runs completely opposite of three other counties he spoke with. Trinity County pays $5,000 for administrative costs, and two others pay $0 for such costs. “There is serious dysfunction if other counties are doing more for less,” Mono Supervisor Vikki Bauer commented.
The state, Muir said, can proceed however it wants. He expects the first step to be an admonishment to Inyo and Mono to “get along,” but neither he nor Arkens put much faith in that producing any results, given the two counties’ differences. “There is a huge disconnect,” Hazard opined, “but no way to resolve it. This can only be effective by ending the Joint Powers Agreement and focusing on our seniors.”
Mono County could then be paired with another county in a new partnership agreement, or the state could opt to contract with an independent nonprofit entity, so long as they can justify to the federal government that Mono County is receiving services.
In the meantime, Mono County plans to cover at least an interim continuation of the program, should that become necessary until a new situation is worked out. “We need seniors to know that we care about them and are here to help take care of their needs,” Hazard said during a recent Board meeting. Hazard said he’d rather spend the $170,000 on boots on the ground senior services in Mono County.
“Seniors have the right to expect the highest level of services, and the money is being lost in administration and state requirements that are overly complicated,” Mono County Department of Social Services Director Julie Tiede observed.
The Governing Board will send a letter to Sacramento formally notifying the California Department of Aging of its decision, and will work with state government during the transition period.